What’s New: Introducing Our New Artist in Residence Ryan Fritz

We are so excited to continue our Artist in Residence program with a new local artist! Read more about what you can expect form this creative pop-up space below…

By: Niki | January 15, 2018

When we first started our Artist in Residence program, we had no idea what to expect and what the reaction would be. After hearing amazing feedback from our stores and visitors, we are thrilled to continue the program with our next local artist, Ryan Fritz!

Ryan has completely transformed the space of what once was Aeropostale, and then our Holiday Lounge, into a fun and interactive studio! Learn more about Ryan and his new space in our Q&A below…

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a pretty-funny guy that complains a lot – I am currently the CEO of Office Sign Company, a growing local sign company that started in my basement, nearly 10 years ago this summer. I have always been interested and engaged in art, design and creativity. Much of my life I have worked as a graphic artist, after finishing school at Moorhead Technical College for Commercial Art. (School has a new name now). I consider myself a Dad before anything, and started a Company in 2008 to spend more time with my daughter, now 16. After blending families and having one more little girl, I’m a Dad to 2 girls and step Dad to an additional 2 girls. Girls everywhere. Drama everywhere.

Q: What triggered your interest in art?

Art is my go to – I’ve painted, doodled and drawn things all my life – art has always been a constant in my life, no matter how many times I have stopped or taken a break. Art classes were always an interest of mine since grade school – I did take a break for producing art after starting a company, but I’ve grown to realize the life of a CEO demands a creative outlet. Thanks goodness I found the Plains School of Abstract Painting, led by Marjorie Schlossman. This forces me to paint every Wednesday, at the very least.

Q: How would you describe your art?

Over the years I used to produce photorealistic artworks and portraits, some displayed here on a very old web site ( Later in life, my artwork certainly includes mostly Abstract Art, and an occasional portrait.

Q: What is your biggest inspiration for your art these days?

What drives you creatively? I am inspired by my family, people in general and nature. Any art history study I do is usually a cause for inspiration as well – I’m often inspired by colors seen in everyday life and certainly inspired by other artist around the world. I paint at the Plains Art Museum every Wednesday morning, its such a great group of people and artists – this gang inspires me quite a bit, and on so many levels. I also simply have the need to create – a drive to create – I’m thankful for this, because I haven’t always felt this way. Abstract art allows me to be myself and paint for myself without trying to prove anything to anyone. The desire to make progress in my body of work is also very inspiring. Our mentor in class, Marjorie Schlossman is a true inspiration in so many ways.

Q: What would you consider as your biggest accomplishment in your artistic career so far?

I have received some awards and even used to paint sports artwork for commission, earlier in life. Seeing my work reproduced in print was quite an accomplishment, even if only for a few short years. Being able to paint in front of hundreds and thousands of people every day, and able to reside in my own studio is also quite an accomplishment!

Q: What does this Artist in Residence mean to you?

Honestly, this means the world to me, and I’m feeling very blessed. It’s hard to put into words but it’s quite an honor to be allowed free reign to throw paint around.

Q: What can we expect to see during your time at West Acres?

First you will see a man consuming lots of coffee. This is what I do best. I will be painting daily or at least 5-6 days per week. I have some portraits on display as well as numerous abstract works of art. I hope to paint in both acrylics and oils. I do love kids and I have small easel set up in hopes to get some young faces into the studio to paint. I hope to work on painting some abstract portraits in real time. Most days I will be focusing on abstract art and pushing the boundaries of the colors I work with. Each day will be different from the last, from the types of work one may see.

Q: Are your pieces available for purchase?

Yes – There has been a fair amount of interest in my works, I do not make selling a priority and may not even have prices or titles listed initially, but if clients push hard enough I am happy to oblige. At times I am reluctant to associate the transfer of money with my art. Selling my art is a concept I struggle with and I do not push it, but selling art, or even an interest in my works is always appreciated. As time goes on I will take a more organized approach to selling my works. For now, my focus is on the creation of art. This residency will also help me gauge how much interest there may or may not be in my line of art. There’s always the right number if one is interested in my art.

Q: Why West Acres? Why take advantage of this opportunity?

There are numerous reasons to take advantage of this opportunity. First and foremost, a large, warm studio space that I can get paint anywhere is the dream of any artist. An opportunity to paint multiple hours every day has been a goal of mine all of my life, and I’ve never had the opportunity or never took it. There is also the opportunity to get my works in front of a large amount of people. Its also no surprise that West Acres is a large supporter of art, specifically local artists. I’ll be honest, working as a CEO can be a daunting task, in part I wanted to use this as an opportunity to determine if I could unplug from work – but my biggest reason for wanting to be the artist in residence is to truly see how my work evolves when I work everyday at a near-full-time basis. This residency will help answer many questions I’ve had about my art and if I would wish to pursue art as a full time career. Do I want to paint every day? Will the public continue to embrace my works? Soon I will know. Simply put, when I heard of the opportunity, I began drafting my application that very night. I also enjoy the concept of doing something slightly outside of my comfort zone, and this is the exact opportunity I have been looking for. This residency will help answer many questions I’ve had about myself and particularly my process of creating art.

This unique space is considered a pop-up studio, which means it is a temporary and limited-time experience! Stop by Ryan’s studio to be a part of this new and exciting concept now – February.

Artist in Residence Schedule

1/12 from 2-6pm

1/13 from 12-2pm

1/15 from 9:30am-2pm

1/16 from 12-4pm

1/17 from 9:30am-2pm

1/18 from 12-4pm

1/20 from 12-4pm

1/21 from 1-3pm

*Times are subject to change without notice. Please visit the studio to see the most recent and future schedules, as they become available.



I have the privilege of being on the amazing Marketing, PR and Fashion team as the Digital Marketing Manager at West Acres. When I am not managing our social and digital platforms and brainstorming content ideas, I am the woman behind (and sometimes in front of) the camera – creating content and working with the media to create segments to introduce the latest trends! When I’m not at the mall, you can find me watching “Friends,” eating ice cream by the carton, spending time with my family and friends, feeding my Pinterest addiction or crossing off destinations on my traveling bucket list.




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