Weather Forecast


Work of well-known German sculptor, who has Bemidji connection, on exhibit at Watermark Art Center

Click to enlarge: Chris Hamilton and his mother Ursula Murch stand next to “Pacing Man” before the opening reception of “A Work in Process: the Artwork of Joachim Berthold” on Jan. 4 at Watermark Art Center. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- A visit from Patrick Donnay, on behalf of the Watermark Art Center, had Chris Hamilton thinking.

Hamilton’s late grandfather, Joachim Berthold was a famed, prolific German sculptor, and his family still had more than 100 pieces of his work in their possession.

“We had talked for the last number of years about where things would wind up or what to do with all the artwork because there’s a considerable collection still,” Hamilton said about conversations he had with his mother, Ursula Murch.

Hamilton brought up the collection to Donnay, originally considering permanently loaning Berthold’s “Pacing Man,” but it evolved to an entire exhibit: “A Work in Process: the Artwork of Joachim Berthold.” And “Pacing Man” will still be a permanent fixture at the art center.

Most of Berthold’s work was still located on the East Coast in Virginia with Murch, Hamilton’s mother. And before they knew it, it was on a semi-trailer and headed to northern Minnesota.

“I was just stunned and overwhelmed by the seriousness and the integrity of the (Watermark Art Center Board of Directors),” said Murch when she came from Virginia for the opening reception held Jan. 4. “So I felt good. My father agreed in spirit with this future exploration and execution.”

A press release from the Watermark Art Center said all of the pieces in the exhibit focus on the central theme of man. “Not the external manifestations of the human form, but rather, the essence of the human being,” the release said.

Bethorld worked predominantly in bronze and the exhibit feature small and large sculptures as well as drawings. His work has been shown in museums and galleries throughout the world, including New York, Munich, Milan, Vancouver and more. The exhibit at the Watermark will be on display until March 24.

“Berthold believed man to be a spiritual being, always evolving, constantly learning from the knowledge of those passed on before,” the press release said.

Hamilton, who owns Lake-N-Woods Realty in Bemidji, said he’s excited to have the exhibit at the Watermark Art Center as well as feeling the weight of responsibility as he and his brother are now the owners of the artwork.

“It’s breathtaking,” Murch said. “And it will remain breathtaking because the Watermark and the sponsors as well as the board -- I am absolutely speechless of their insight and efforts. It’s my father’s dream come true.”

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

(218) 333-9786