A new art exhibition showcases historical highlights from the University of North Dakota's art and photography collections. "Chester Fritz in Shanghai, 1921-1947," opened April 18, 2016, with a reception at the UND Art Collections Gallery, in partnership with the Empire Arts Center, 415 DeMers. The exhibition runs through July 28.
President Ed Schafer spoke at the reception.
Gallery hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, noon to 5 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The exhibition focuses attention on Chester Fritz (1892-1983) by presenting selected pieces from his art and photography collections. Fritz was born in Buxton, N.D. and attended UND for two years. He became a prosperous American businessman while residing in Shanghai’s international settlement between 1921 and 1947. Later in his life, Fritz donated more than $2.25 million to UND, including funds for scholarships, as well as a library and an auditorium that both bear his name. While Fritz’s legacy has benefited numerous UND faculty and students, his ties with China have remained relatively unknown to the general public.
Fritz’s venture to the Far East began in 1915, when his employer, Fisher Flouring Mills in Seattle, sent him to Hong Kong as an export agent. In 1917, he took a six-month journey across Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, and Tibet, before finding his way to Shanghai. While the exhibit will focus on his years in Shanghai, it will also include several photographs from the earlier period when Fritz cemented his bond with China by travelling inland to these more remote regions.
Crystal Hui-Shu Yang, an associate professor at UND, served as the exhibition’s curator. Touched by what she describes as Fritz’s genuine love for China and Chinese culture, Yang organized the show to pay homage to his philanthropy. With gratitude to the assistance of the Shanghai History Museum, this exhibition features art and photography within the context of Fritz’s life stories, while providing fascinating insights into the cosmopolitan culture and superheated economy of early-20th century Shanghai.
Lan Zhang, director of the Shanghai History Museum, attended the opening reception as a visiting scholar to UND.
The exhibition is partially funded by the Myers Foundations and the College of Arts & Sciences.