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 husband...so 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 doing...as 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