Sunday Sketch – The Forgotten Fountains of Saint Paul

Someday  I will travel abroad and sketch the famous fountains of Rome and Tivoli.  However, there are fountains right here in downtown Saint Paul, maybe not as famous, but every bit as wonderful, in a Saint Paul sort of way. What Saint Paul fountains lack in artistic splendor, or even water, they make up in bleakness and  pathos. They are eminently sketchable fountains.

Last Friday, I sketched three forgotten and forlorn fountains in downtown Saint Paul. Click on the sketches to make them bigger.

U.S. Bank Building, 101 East Fifth Street – This forgotten fountain lies below street level underneath the escalator. There is no water in the fountain, but plenty of litter and dust. A good set for a scene in an post-apocalyptic movie.


A repurposed fountain on Fifth Street across from the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. In a sad little park where nobody goes (except to smoke cigarettes) is a former fountain, now a drab, corporate headquarters-style garden. There are no benches in the park, so I had to sit on the curb to sketch it.


Wells Fargo Place – I have a memory of an indoor  fountain here that mimicked the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. I remember crowds ringing the atrium watching the fountain spurt water a couple stories in the air. The geyser is not there anymore. In its place is  a pathetic, burbling pool with a rusty, abstract metal sculpture in the middle resembling the deformed dorsal fin of a captive, drugged-up  killer whale:


Ken Avidor

About Ken Avidor

Ken Avidor is an illustrator, cartoonist and occasional courtroom sketch artist. Ken Avidor is an active urban sketcher and maintains a daily, illustrated journal. Ken is married to urban cartographer and talented sketch artist Roberta Avidor in the Union Depot in Lowertown, Saint Paul. Follow Ken and Roberta's sketching/bicycling adventures on their travel blog.