"The theme of humanity, the face and the figure has been a particular choice of the statute-maker since prehistory. My humble aspiration is to be remembered as part of this tradition. This is my effort" --Alonzo Hauser (1909-1988).
Alonzo Hauser was a prominent and prolific sculptor and artist for five decades. He founded the Art Department at Macalester College in 1945. He taught at the Layton School of Art, Milwaukee, Carton College and the University of Minnesota School of Architecture. His work is in the collection of the Walker Art Museum, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, and the Minnesota Historical Society, the Wustum Museum in Racine, Wisconsin, and in many galleries and private collections throughout the country.
The Wisconsin native drew inspiration at an early age by drawing from KatzundJammer cartoons of the early 20th century according to his sister, Wynona Hauser Murray. Alonzo Hauser began an earnest study of art after high school at the Layton School of Art and developed an interest in sculpture under the tutelage of Girilamo Piccoli. Driven to pursue his new found passion in sculpture, he moved to New York in 1930 and apprenticed as a stone carver under Amedio Merli. Hauser maintained a stone mason license throughout his life, which often provided a vehicle for steady income when commissions were lean. Alonzo Hauser garnered scholarships for a independent studies in France 1931 and again in 1933 at the Art Student's League of New York, under the famous 20th century sculptor, William Zorach.
The worldwide controversy of directing carving versus modeling in sculpture found a revival of the principles previously held regarding the function and character of the art. By 1900 and in particular after World War One, sculpture began to express itself in contemporary thought and experience rather than to ancient myth or legend. Direct carving aligned itself with modernism and in America William Zorach became its new and vocal champion.
While Hauser's stylized and simplified, strong and expressive form hint of his studies under Zorach, it is the technical application of direct carving where these two artisans found a common bond. Hauser, like the early proponents of direct carving, found interpretation in the intrinsic medium of marble, stone and wood. The artist found energy and artistic freedom in relationship to the material and brought the art into closer relationship with the material than it had been in the 19th century. Direct carving versus modeling also was seen as a reaction to the work of Rodin and for those proponents it ensured the authorship and authenticity of the finished product. The process was as important as the product. Since the art of sculpture has the human form as its principle subject matter, the figure would no longer be just an imitation of natural appearances, but an interpretation of the essential elements of a form as the artist perceived them. According to Hauser in an interview in the mid 1950's, "one thing is certain to me, the artist does not live to ornament existence, to decorate life. . my drawings and sculpture are done for the purpose of providing me with clarification as well as emotional expression of my world".
Alonzo Hauser's public sculpture dots the landscape of the Twin Cities of Minnesota. "The Source" in Rice Park in St. Paul, the monumental Christ on the facade of the St. Paul United Church of Christ on Summit Avenue and the recently restored "Promise of Youth" fountain sculpture are a few examples. The "Promise of Youth" , a controversial sculpture, was commissioned in 1952 by the architect for the new Veterans Service Building on the capitol grounds in St. Paul. One of Hauser's most inspired works of art, it represents the motivating force which guided the men and women in service to their country. A controversy surrounding the nude figure erupted before the sculpture was completed and continued to keep it from the public view for years. Alonzo Hauser credited the University of Minnesota Daily and support from members of the art community with breaking censorship. A rededication of the "Promise of Youth" sculpture fountain ceremony was held in May 2001 presided by Lieutenant Governor Mae Schunk.
Alonzo Hauser continued to create throughout his entire life. A man of immense talent, energy and enthusiasm, he was a mentor to many young artists, students and writers. They include Duane Hanson, sculptor, painter Mike Lynch among others. He had a profound interest in anthropology and in particular Native American and Innuit cultures. This is reflected especially in his later work. His circle of close friends included such notable artists as Romeare Beardon, George Morrison, Walter Quirt, Cameron Booth, authors such as Frederick Manfred, Millen Brand, and designers and academics such as Buckminster Fuller, E. Adamson Hoebel, Cotton Mather and a host of others.
Alonzo Hauser's children continue his artistic tradition through their active participation within the Minnesota arts community. Sons, Michael and Tony Hauser, are both well known classical and flamenco guitarists. Daughter, Heidi Jasmin, carries on the operation of the Nancy Hauser Dance Company which was founded by her mother.