Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Marxhausen's Clay Busts of Professors

Marxhausen once tried to sculpt clay busts of all the Concordia professors. After doing a few, Marxy realized the task would be far more time-consuming than he anticipated, so he moved on. Here is one completed bust owned by Prof. Pfabe. What other professors did Marxy sculpt? I'll be looking into that in the future.

- Duncan

Marxhausen's Lent Art 5

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Theory on the Open Book

Shot at 12:10

Why would Marxhausen want his Open Book sculpture tucked away behind Link library? Contrast this with the Son of Man be Free: that sculpture resides in the heart of the campus, with no trees obstructing student's view of it, and no buildings close enough to cast their shadow on it. Most students will pass by it on their way to different classes throughout the day, which means almost every student not only sees it daily, but can appreciate how it changes as the day goes by and the sun travels further west. This is probably why students poke fun at the Son of Man be Free so often: it's something most Concordia students are very familiar with.

Conversely, during the school day, a student would have to go out of his way to see the Open Book. From morning til noon, the sun is blocked by the building, so the afternoon is the only time you can appreciate strong sunlight's effect on it.

However, when Marxhausen discussed his sculpture in an interview, he explained that its placement was deliberate:

I decided to design something which was away from the wall so that it uses the space out here a little bit more rather than glue it up against a wall; then having it three dimensional like this so that the sun can play on its surfaces.

Based on this information, I've theorized that Marxhausen was not only well aware that his sculpture would be in shadow for part of the day, he wanted that variety between strong, dramatic light, and subtler light.

In A Time to See Marxy talked about some bottles that by a window in his house:

I've taken about twenty slides of these bottles sitting in the window and no two slides are alike. They're different because the light changes and the atmosphere changes and the sun changes. And sometimes they look very dramatic and sometimes they look very I get up in the morning and come to this little space I can see things differently as it's reflected in the obejcts.

Marxhausen aprreciated these bottles because of the variety. Similarly, the Open Book is sometimes dramatic and sometimes less dramatic because of the sun's lighting. As I've written in the past, Marxhausen loved the changes he saw in nature and he taught his students that seeing beauty is a deliberate, agressive action.

Since students have to go out of their way to appreciate the Open Book, seeing it at a moment when the sunlight is dramatic is all the more special. I'm positive that Marxhausen planned it that way.

One can't passively enjoy the Open Book; one has to actively make time to come appreciate it in its best light.

- Duncan

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Marxhausen's Lent Art 4

John 19:18 (KJV) After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Do You Remember?

This is a collection of posts by visitors reminiscing about Marxhausen. They include students, professors, and celebrities:

Only had him for one class. Great person, VERY creative. What I appreciated most about him was that he made any of us w/o interest or skill in art still feel very comfortable with the unique crazy off the wall nutzo wierd fun projects he assigned!!

Great for prospective teachers,,,

Was fun going to the junkyard for his class! What a genius spirit he was!!!

James Juergensen, class of '62,
Current Director of Graduate Studies at Concordia University Wisconson

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJames Juergensen

I had Marxey for a class. I think it was Art Appreciation (only a
guess), or Art 101. First of all, I had trouble and still do with stick
figures. But I do remember a project we did for the class that left an
impression on me as I remember it some 45 years later. We were to take
some simple item (I chose a globe on a stand) and depict it in as many
ways possible- paint, draw, construct, texture, stipple, abstract, etc-
a hundred different ways if possible. I remember having fun with it and
actually scratched some latent creativity in there somewhere. The Truth
be known, my girl friend, Janette Pralle, a talented art student, did a
great job on my project, and of course I got an A on it. As my Dad
always said, "Knowledge is not what you know but knowing where to find
it." Dan Juergensen Class of '66.

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan Juergensen

I had Professor Marxhausen (Marxy as we called him) for Children's Art
in the spring of 1970, my senior year. The projects I remembered most
vividly were the film project and the project where we enlarged a
painting by reproducing a small piece of it into a larger size. The
film project involved having a section of 16mm leader film and drawing
shapes on it with magic markers. We knew how much space was allotted
per second and how close we could put the shapes together so they would
project onto the screen in some kind of moving fashion. When Marxhausen
was going to show the film the next week he didn't have a take-up reel
for the projector so he just ran it onto the floor in a pile. It was
only a few minutes long but we had quite a pile of film on the floor by
the time he finished.

The reproduction project was a picture of the head of Christ that had
been divided up into small pieces probably about 1 or 2 inches square.
We were to make them into pieces that were about 12 inches square using
acrylic paints trying to reproduce our section in some type of scale
drawing. The picture was in shades of brown. All of our individual
pieces were in similar shades of brown except for one student who chose
to do his in shades of purple since he felt that would demonstrate his

When projects were turned in and graded Professor Marxhausen would tell
us we could pick them up outside his office in Founders. Going to his
office you would literally find a pile of artwork on the floor outside
his door and have to sort through it to find your project.

That winter we had a very gentle snow without wind that resulted in
bikes and branches having nice piles of snow on top of them. That
morning we saw Marxhausen out with his camera taking pictures of these
"artistic" piles of snow on everything. We laughed and then later that
week we were looking at those pictures in art class and being told how
line and form merged to demonstrate something. We smiled in class
knowing what he had been doing a few days earlier to prepare for that

I found Professor Marxhausen to be a person of unique perspective and
vision. He could find art in anything and was very good at helping us
see for ourselves what he was seeing or to see things in completely new
ways. We completed still life paintings. Mine was of soap, shampoo,
toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, and other things I found in my bathroom.
I remember that my grade was lowered because the things looked like they
were floating in space instead of sitting on a counter or table. We did
3-d work with cardboard and I'm sure a lot of other things that were to
be useful as we taught art to our students after graduation.

Ron Bork, Class of 70

Now Dean of Education at Concordia University, Nebraska

March 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRon Bork

I traveled from Omaha to Seward twice a week to take Reinhold's class on Creativity. He was an amazing teacher and a very electric person. He was always excited about teaching and sharing his enthusiasm with his students. I always looked forward to his class.

Reinold always wanted you to take a different route when you went somewhere. It did not matter whether you were driving your car, walking or riding a bike. You could miss so much by taking the same route, so you should always opt to take another route to the same destination. You never know what you will see or experience along the way.

One of our thoughts was in regards to a cemetery. Reinold wanted to know what you would do to change a cemetery. I thought my tombstone should be a teeter totter, so that kids can play on my grave. That would be quite fun!

Thank you Reinold for all your inspiring thoughts and gravitating the mind into new and unexplored directions! I really enjoyed touring and playing with your inventions in the garage!

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Rein is my uncle. I remember when we had our family reunions in Minnesota when I was a little girl (in the '50s and '60s) it was always exciting to know my mom's siblings would be coming to town. They were all larger than life, loud, laughing, trading stories and jokes. Rein was part of this group. And he was a famous artist! In my mind, he was a very important man. The love for life and each other flowed like a river through those reunions. Even though I haven't seen him for a long time, I will never forget those Marxhausen gatherings.

February 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoan Gilmore

I unfortunately never had the chance to be a Marxhausen student. I enjoyed hearing professors talk about him.

Even though I was never his student, nor know him personally, I did have some encounters, which were all favorites, for the unified reason that I at least felt connected in some way to this one-of-a-kind CUNE art department legend.

My freshman year (2002) at Concordia, my boyfriend at the time (and now CUNE cliché) rented a recording of Marxhausen starred on David Letterman. He was an immediate inspiration as I had actually just joined the art program only because I liked drawing. At the time, I didn't realize I would end up in a career using an art degree. I was just finding a way to balance my schedule from testing out of Calculus courses, auditing math classes and taking sophomore level math courses.

At any rate...I ended up putting an end to all math classes and become more involved in the art program taking classes, working, mentoring, and working at the Marxhausen Gallery. On occasions, Marxy himself would wander in on an afternoon stroll to do some "work" in his office. Mixed emotions had filled my body for what are obvious reasons to those of you who know his history and reasons for coming onto campus after his retirement.

Another memory is that I had the unique experience of being one of 3 or 4 students to repaint his mural downtown. It was a joy to work with his wife, who was another glimpse into the life of Marxhausen I never knew, but wished I had. During that time of repainting his mural, I got to ring the doorbell to his house! An experience in and of itself (I wouldn't do justice to the experience if I even began to explain).

He was one very creative man...and I'm more than certain his brain and hands were always going and thinking and well as I'm sure that still lives through the art department at CUNE to this day.

We love you Marxy!

January 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

The following is excerpted from a lecture I gave at The Library of Congress when I was U. S. Poet Laureate. It concerns my years spent in the insurance business, and Marx's residency among us:

Reinhold Marxhausen, who taught at Concordia college in Seward, Nebraska, was a delightful man, playful yet serious about art and its happy effects. Marx began visiting Bankers Life, making photographs, .35 mm color slides — of the way the light refracted from the chrome of a doorknob, of the flowing shadows in curtained windows, and so on. As I recall, he spent a couple of weeks there with his camera, working among us as we shuffled our papers and carried file folders from place to place. We called those files of odds and ends "Walkers," and each of us had one. If you had a file folder in your hand, you were presumed to be working. I carried the most recent copies of Poetry and Kayak and Lillabulero in mine. The more stern the rules of conduct, the more employees will have fun breaking them. My son worked for a time as a night-time shelf stocker in a supermarket, where the rules were stiff. He and his fellow stockers spent the wee hours bowling in the aisles, using big plastic bottles of soda for the pins and frozen turkeys for the bowling balls.
But back to Bankers Life. After awhile, Marx appeared before an assembly of employees in the cafeteria and showed us what was all around us but what we had never stopped to notice. His slides were beautiful, rich with color and mass and texture. Who would have thought, for example, that the arc of water in a common drinking fountain could be so beautiful? We left our gray metal folding chairs feeling altogether happy and refreshed, as if sprinkled by a hose on a summer day. And we were a little in awe, looking about us to see what kinds of beauty we, too, might find right under our noses. What had we been missing, every day?
That afternoon, with Reinhold Marxhausen's carousel slide projector clacking and creaking through image after image, was the high point of my years at that company. Much better, even, than riding up in an elevator one day with Secretary of Agriculture Clifford Hardin, whose black wing-tip shoes, placed right next to my broken-down loafers, shone as if carved from obsidian. He surely knew by then that the position of Secretary of Agriculture has always been the last stop on the train to political oblivion, and it is best to stride into the darkness with your shoes polished.

December 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTed Kooser

I remember that his chapel services were very well attended. He always had something to say that was interesting and uplifting. It reflected his faith and his joy of living in Christ.

November 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStan

Blasting staccato notes pierced the silence… trumpeters playing runs of notes, teachers and students together made a wall of sound. Students were used to listening to music with strong brass sections and it made the church service sound like “our” music. Reference the music of Blood Sweat and Tears or Chicago. A processional brought a cross to the front of the congregation and then I saw it! The bells of four trumpets had been arranged to form a cross. The sound, the visual, it lives with me to this day as a moment I can feel. I would get the opportunity to be a part of this community, people who used their talents to praise their Lord.

I have always associated that cross with Professor Marxhausen and I hope I am correct in believing he created it. I was attending Seward and at that service because of him. It was his art work that had been on display at Bronxville, a junior college in 1969 and he had been there to attend the opening of his sculpture show. What an energetic personality, with a smile and positive attitude. He danced as he spoke about his work and I could sense a fellow who had a joy and a purpose. His works fascinated me and his talent was on display and beckoning me to come learn from someone who was doing “Art.” His attitude was infectious and I followed him past River Forest, where all the East coast folks went to finish their synodical training, to the cornfields of Nebraska. A kid from a three room apartment in the Bronx found his mentor.

In those years he drove a station wagon that he had spray painted with an abstract design … I am sure doilies were used in the process. He was crossing the country telling Lutherans that art could enhance their life and worship and he was asking “Do you see what I see?” They were years of teaching in a small house off campus and as my wife says, “Marx running home at lunch time, taking off his shirt and working in the back yard forming some sculpture.” Her view was from the house, used as a dorm that used to be across the street from where he lived. She claims he was so predictable that the girls could figure out their class times by his work schedule.

After graduation it was eight years before I saw Marx again and by that time I had completed teaching at a Lutheran high school in Detroit and was an instructor at St Paul’s College in Concordia, Missouri. One day I heard a voice from a crowd of young people playing some game in the field by the college. Marx had joined his younger relatives during a family reunion and he was playing games where there were no losers! He was excited by that concept and was calling me to join in. He let me know each year he came to Concordia to help with his wife’s Aunt. They would come together to make an elderly relative comfortable in her house and do any work that she needed. He then started a practice of showing up at my house when he was “giving the ladies time to talk.” What a joy for me to be able to show him my studio, the gas kiln and my latest production. He would be so encouraging and always found something to be excited about. It was the highlight of my year to have him visit and talk “Art.”

I know I am not getting to what I really want to say … it is the contrast of Marx and me. As a child I had learned to fit into the crowd of guys who hung out on the street corner in a working class section of the Bronx. Not a place abundant with personalities who could celebrate life, creativity, Art; witnessing to the blessings they enjoyed. Maybe I stumbled into what I found in Marx with what I wrote above … he was playing games where there were no losers! By example he let me know it was acceptable to passionately live a life and be expressive! What a gift to share and I know so many of us received his present with a sense we were to pass it along.

The last time I saw Marx, Ken Schmidt had taken us to Cranbrook a place Ken had graduated from and had even taught for a year. As Ken’s guests we got a tour of the school and it ended with us in the museum. A thick walled building where one was expected to quietly contemplate the works of art on display. Marx got our attention when he said he knew Bertoia as he stood over one of his sculptures, it is made of numerous rods that stand together like a field of tall grass and if outdoors the rods would sway and hit each other making a sound. Unexpectedly Marx reached around the stand of rods hugging them and leaning to one side let them go! The resulting sound of metal hitting metal echoed throughout the museum and guards rushed to our side. I am sure they thought someone had damaged a work of art. They were greeted by Marx who explained,
“Harry made his sculptures to be heard!” We exited laughing with the sound of the sculpture ringing behind us.

Yeah, God made Marx to put his hands around a bunch of Lutherans, pull us to one side, and then let us go … so we could be heard!

November 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Waldmann

1960. Freshman at Concordia Teachers College, Seward--from the Phila. suburbs. Never had an art course in school. Must take Introduction to Art; will need it to be an elementary teacher. Marxy enters the room--never saw an artist with a goatee and a beret before--thought they were only in Paris. He's all akimbo, darting thoughts, darting eyes, slender, wears jeans on campus. Some words from him in that Fall semester..."What do you see?" "I have 2 prices when I go to the auto graveyard: one price for any parts I need to fix my car; free if it's to be used for my art." "Let me show you some slides; yes it's a farmhouse and barn on fire; it's Dec. and this is Nebraska where we celebrate when the temp goes above zero F. The firemen are devastated: water has frozen mid-air; but look--it has made these incredible ice sculptures; the charred remains bring tears to my eyes; then I look at the designs God created in the destruction; I thank Him for the beauty. I weep." "When I was at the Chicago Art Institute I used the clean up sink as my inspiration--great colors and shapes." "Yes, Miss Barth, let's put your black & white photos in the gallery. Who knew the inside of a clothes dryer could have such interesting design!" "I take all my junk mail and have a pot of glue at the ready; I just keep adding it to my basement walls and then, when it's thick enough, I begin carving into it. Can always cover it over if I don't like it. Helps insulate the place!" "The furniture store saves these carpet samples for me. I glue them down in my house in random patterns--wall-to-wall. Great, because when a section or a path gets stained or worn, I just tear it up and replace it with new ones!" "Miss Barth, you really want me to sign that newsprint pencil drawing of 3 oranges that I shaded against some rough cement? OK."
1980's (approximately). My husband and I are visiting the State Univ. of NY at Purchase -Neuberger Museum near our home. Interesting kinetic art display. 'Wow, Don, look at this! Doesn't it remind you of something Marxhausen would do??' He replies, 'Look at the credits...Reinhold Pieper Marxhausen, Seward, NE.'
At 67 my memories of him are as yesterday's.
I'm glad I said thanks to him many times. I still need to say thanks--to God--for this funny, quixotic, remarkable spirit who taught me to "see," hear and think differently. The spark of creativity sometimes comes in whimsy. Seeing Marxy's art that expressed his deep spiritual belief inspired me to embrace whimsy-- and to "look again" at what I see.
Julie Barth Bohl, Concordia, Seward, class of '64

November 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Barth Bohl

I, unfortunately, am also one who cannot say that she personally knows Marxhausen. I am currently an Ecclesiastical Art student at Concordia and the only contact I've had with him is seeing him while someone else pointed him out, and through what my mom told me (she was a student here a while ago, not an art person though so she never knew him). However, over the last few weeks I've felt that I've sortof gotten to know him indirectly - through his own art and through the art of others.
I also went to Marxhausen's studio a few weeks ago, and I felt like I had just had a crash course in Marxhausen. His art was absolutely phenominal, you could really tell that he had such a curiosity about life and enjoyed every minute of it. It feels so hard to describe that experience - I'll have to repeat Julia's comments when I say that it was "magical" and that he lives the way I want to live. In the deepest sense of the word, it was awe inspiring. To be able to express that joy through your art, even when the person looking/enjoying it has never met you, is exactly what I want to be able to do in my own art.
My second encounter with Marxhausen came a few days ago when the writer of this blog showed me the different portaits that others did of Marxhausen. Each portrait, caricature and study revealed a different side of Marxhausen, all through the eyes of people who knew and interacted with him personally.
I'm looking forward to seeing this project unfold - It has been a pleasure getting to know this amzing man that I've mever met.

November 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Well, I can't say that this is something that I "remember" about Marxhausen, but he has indirectly left quite an impact on me. I am a student at Concordia Nebraska and am in the Ecclesiastical Art program. I was blessed with the opportunity to see his studio yesterday! I have heard stories and seen work of his, but only knew that he was a very talented man, and had a passion for art and for life. This being said, yesterday's adventure confirmed that, and made me realize how much I wish I had been able to talk with and even to observe him when he was teaching.

We walked over to the Marxhausen residence and were welcomed into the studio. We were given permission to pick up and interact with some of the things that he had made. We looked around, asked questions and listened to stories. "Magical" is the best word that I can think of when I try to describe it. It was like I was introduced to a man who lived the way that I desire to. Curious, driven, full of joy, and eager to explore mysteries and find or simply see beauty in the world.

My lesson for the day: Curiosity may kill a cat, but for me, curiosity is the avenue in which I discover how to truly live.

October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulia A. Mueller

Sunday, March 7, 2010

More Art in Weller

Marxhausen's office used to be located in Weller's basement. His office would be to the left if you walked down this hall, while the classroom would be to the right. Those glass cases displayed artwork by students. The rooms are now used for storage and were stripped bare of any artwork when Brommer became the art building. However, Marxhausen's scripture in brick remains along with this mural.

Several teachers I spoke to mentioned the brick piece, and a few of them also recalled that this mural was painted by Marxhausen. It bears a distinct resemblance to an image from the Hall of the Bulls in a cave in Lascaux, France.

This piece in one of the display cases does not look like any of the other work by Marxhausen that I've seen, so I think it may have been done by another Professor or a student. Still, if it were done by a student, could it have been done for a class taught by Marxhausen? Does anyone have any information about this piece?

- Duncan

Psalm 104

Walk down the staircase in the Weller building in Concordia, and you will discover this message, carved by Marxhauen into brick underneath a board where posters can be pinned up. (For a few images, I included two light sources, one with the camera flash for heightened clarity and one without, as it would appear in the normal lighting conditions.)

- Duncan
Psalm 104 (King James Version)

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:

4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.

8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.

11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.

12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.

13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.

14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

16 The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;

17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.

19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.

20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.

21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.

22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.

23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.

26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.

28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.

29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

31 The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD
There is also a bench sitting against the wall between the two flights of steps. Underneath that bench, you will find this:

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Man Ray and Marxhausen's Film Project

Man Ray was an avant-garde part artist who was part of the Dada movement. He invented the Rayograph technique, which involved putting objects on photographic paper and exposing them to light, thereby creating ghostly photographic images without using a camera. He realized he could create a film using this technique.

Ron Bork, Concordia's current Dean of Education, recalled a similar project he did as Marxhausen's student:

The film project involved having a section of 16mm leader film and drawing shapes on it with magic markers. We knew how much space was allotted per second and how close we could put the shapes together so they would project onto the screen in some kind of moving fashion.

Could Marxhausen have drawn inspiration from Man Ray for this class project? You could get a much better feel for Marxhausen's class' film might have looked liked by watching Man Ray's wild film, which caused a fight to break out in the audience. This film was shown in PBS's program, American Masters: The Artists. A DVD copy is available in Link Library.

Another influential artist featured in that series, Robert Rauscherberg, could be compared to Marxhausen. Both used found objects to assemble sculptures. See Marxhausen's Lent sculptures and lint pieces.

I also found the aforementioned Man Ray film on YouTube. Not every section uses his Rayograph technique. You can tell which ones I think may have inspired the Marxhausen class project because they are very jagged, you can make out objects like nails and tacks, and it sometimes looks like snow on a TV screen. Warning: this video may give you a headache, and the last clip shows the effect of light on a nude torso.

- Duncan

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Sower

This Marxhausen piece hangs in the Teachers' Learning and Education Center at CUNE. When they saw me photographing this piece, several faculty and staff at TLEC began to reminisce about Marxy, and I gleaned some great information.

The back contained basic information such as the artist and title, Marxhausen gave it the simple title of "The Sower," and the listed media was glass and plexiglass.

He also used wood and possibly Formica, which is also used for counter-tops. Lynda Parde recalled Marxhausen also used Formica in a piece which he gave to her in 1973. From this information, I learned that Marxhausen was going through a "Formica phase" in the early 1970s.

It was clearly inspired by Christ's parable of the sower:

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: 'A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.' Matthew 13:3-8 (NIV)

This piece was photographed and included in a series of posters shared with LCMS teachers across the country, However the original is not just a flat, two-dimensional image, so one can appreciate it better by looking at it from more than one angle:

- Duncan

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Marxhausen's Lent Art 3

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Human Face as a Landscape

This a portrait of an old man by Marxhausen drawn on scratchboard. Using a scratchboard is like drawing in reverse; the artist starts with a simple black board, and uses a tool to cut white lines. Creating an image on scratchboard is tricky because you can't erase, and any fingerprints you leave are nearly impossible to remove.

When Marxhausen gave a talk to members of nursing homes, he explained that aesthetics is more than looking pretty or cute. An old face can be incredible aesthetic.

Your face can be understood to be like a landscape. We walk and enjoy the sunsets, the trees, and the driftwood and the barns and the houses. Maybe we could look at our faces, the cavities and the grooves, as a kind of landscape

Just like nature, which is constantly changing, the human face is gradually changing as well. Because of that, seeing a human face and finding aesthetic beauty is much like trying to find aesthetic beauty in nature, which is constantly changing. One must make a deliberate effort to see.

I think we all have preconceived ideas of what we look like. And actually, as we go through life, we mark moments when we’d like to remember. Our confirmation picture is taken in a very official way. And so there are times when we go to the photographer and he sets up the proper lighting, and we take our picture. Probably the most true pictures of what we look like are our passport pictures and our driving license picture, which are taken spontaneously and without too much makeup. But most people don’t like their passport pictures. It’s not the way they really are. So while we’re changing and going on, we think we look like that picture in the wallet, we look like our wedding picture. Actually, we’re changing.