Monday, May 31, 2010


This is a publication written by Marxhausen about his innovation to use honey comb paper, which is like a slinky made of cardboard, as a medium for art classes. It's economical and allows young students to work in three dimensions.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Article Featuring Ted Kooser and Marxy

This is an article from the Library of Congress written by Donna Urschel. In it, Ted Kooser talks about Marxhausen's way of finding beauty in everyday things. Kooser has contributed to this blog by writing about his memories of Marxhausen. The full article can be read here.

'Nothing Ordinary About a Raindrop'
Ted Kooser on Appreciating Everyday Things the suggestion of a Bankers Life management consultant, the insurance company brought in Reinhold Marxhausen, a photographer, to cheer up the employees. "Marxhausen was a delightful man, playful yet serious about art and its happy effects," Kooser said. The photographer spent several weeks taking pictures, 35mm color slides, of the workplace, capturing "the way light refracted from the chrome of a doorknob, the flowing shadows in curtained windows, and so on."

When he was finished, Marxhausen appeared before an assembly of employees in the cafeteria and showed the slides. "He showed us what was all around us, but what we had never stopped to notice," Kooser said.

"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?"

The slide show was a life-changing event for Kooser. He, too, started to pay attention to the details, "to the beauties and pleasures of the ordinary."


About 10 years ago, Kooser was asked to write a poem to accompany a painting for an art book, which was never published. (Kooser later used a picture of that George Ault painting on the cover of "Delights & Shadows.") The poem that Kooser proposed was:

"If you can awaken
inside the familiar
and discover it strange,
you need never leave home."

"This four-line poem is a kind of credo for me," Kooser told the audience. "In short, we have beauty all about us, if we take the time to pay attention to it. Reinhold Marxhausen knew about paying attention; George Ault knew it. Pablo Neruda wrote dozens of remarkable poems about common things. Thousands of poets and painters have learned to pay attention like this. We honor the ordinary by giving it our attention. We enshrine the ordinary in our art. Is there anything really ordinary, I wonder."

Other Blogs with Informaiton on Marxhausen

While browsing the internet, I discovered two other blogs with posts about Marxhausen. One seems to be a blog analyzing sound, and contained a quote and photos of Marxy I had not seen before.
Once I found a stone that was brown, irregular and very smooth. It was heavy, and looked a bit melted. I remember showing it to a wise, old, bearded rock-hound pastor from Morristown, Minnesota. Reverend Zimmerman's house and life were filled to overflowing with interesting stuff he had collected in his lifetime. When he saw my brown stone, his bushy eyebrows twitched, He looked at me and said 'Son, this is a meteorite - a star' That stone became special to me and I carried it around to surprise all my friends. I was the boy with stardust in his pockets.
You can read the full blog post here.

The other blog I stumbled across is about Seward Nebraska. Marxhausen left such an imprint on the community, it's not surprising to see his work discussed here.

According to the author, Mike Sylwester, these photos were taken on July 4, 1975, and originally had a caption: "Marxhausen Seward Fourth of July Parade float. Old St. John Lutheran Church in the background." Sylwester explains that the second picture "shows the front of the float being held by Karl Marxhausen (in the foreground) and Reinhold Marxhausen (in the background). The back of the float was held by Paul and Dorris Marxhausen (son and mother) and some friends, but they are not seen in these pictures."

He also quoted Reinhold Marxhausen's son, Karl, who discussed how the float was constructed:
Dad used hula hoops for the four corners. With a walker in each hoop. He created a fish line grid, to which inflated ballons were secured. The rectangular float could be elevated by the front and back walkers moving to the middle, creating a 20 high arch.
The full post can be read here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Marxy in the Tower - 1974

One of the rare yearbook photos where Marxy is not busy on a project. There was little art or other information relating to Marxhausen in this yearbook.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Marxy in the Tower - 1971

On the opposite page, Marxhausen is quoted:

When one says yes to life - all the findings are an affirmation and celebration to belief. Looking and searching s to never know, and expectancy is high.

The entry reads:

First semester Professor Marxhausen invited all art majors and minors to help draw a scale picture of the moon which was placed on the north wall of the science building. During interim his art and science, using techniques from both disciplines, created optical illusions which were placed in the science building stairwells.

Also noteworthy, photos of the student senate and officers were taken in front of Marxhausen's Open Book that year.

- Duncan

Marxy in the Tower - 1970

I've been reading older editions of Concordia's yearbook, The Tower, and every one has a bit of info about Marxhausen. I've found some excellent quotes by Marcy and photos of his work I haven't seen anywhere else. Reinhold is pictured on the bottom alongside one of his pieces. The text says that he "enjoys making home-made wine."

The second page shows a few artworks, presumably by both students and professors. They are not labeled, but at least one piece looks like Marxhausen's sound sculptures, the picture right in the middle. A couple others look like they use wood, which may be by Marxy, or by students who learned to use a similar technique.

- Duncan

Marxy in the Tower - 1969

Marxy appears to be putting polyurethane on a wood sculpture. Above the art professors, there are works by students. The yearbook itself doesn't have information on the names of the students who created the works. Any former students recall these art works? I wonder which ones were in Marxy's class. One of the photos looks like a wood mosaic, which a student could have learned in one of Marxy's classes.
The title page for every section, "Faculty," "Students," etc., showed the same photographs. For the student section, the photo of the students was highlighted in gold ink, and so on for the other sections. Marxhausen was the faculty member featured in this yearbook, which meant this picture was on the title page of each section, and printed in gold for the faculty section. Once again, the photos of Marxhy show him hard at work.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Marxy in the Tower - 1968

[Edit: I learned from his wife that these are not pajamas. They are "Harlequin" pants, colored red, black, and white, that she made special for him.]
This wooden object use to be in the Campus Center. None of the older professors thought Marxhausen built it, but was it one of his students?
This page shows how students were involved in chapel. When I interviewed Dr. Serk, she recalled that attendance at chapel was mandatory, students had assigned seats, and there were chapel checkers to ensure students were in their right seat. This yearbook came several years after she was a student. Do any alumni recall if this was the policy in 1968, or does this particular chapel ring a bell? A large pile of junk was created, which the pastor used to illustrate his topic. Could Marxhausen have designed it, or at least have worked with the art students who made it?
The trend I'm noticing in the yearbook pictures of Marxhausen is that he is always working!

Marxy in the Tower - 1966

[9-19-10 Update: I scanned Marxy's faculty photo and posted it. Also found what looks like a painting of Marxhausen by a student.]

These was a feature story in The Tower.
[Edit: I showed this to Karl Marxhausen, and he confirmed that he's the one in the photo here with his dad.]
The 1966 issue had a whole section devoted to student artwork, including this portrait by Dave Burk. Look familiar?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Marxy in the Tower - 1964

This first one is the regular faculty photo you should find in every yearbook. The headline read "Art and Music Departments Provide Outlet for...Individual Expression" but the opposite page didn't show any more art professors so I didn't bother to scan it.

This second photo is much more intriguing. I learned from this that Marxhausen was an advisor for the Activities Committee,

Marxy in the Tower - 1963

Now that I'm back at Concordia, I've returned to chronicling "The Tower" yearbook pictures of Marxy. He's to the left of William Wolfram. You can see a photo of his Open Book behind him while he sculpts an organic piece.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Tower - 1953

Page 62 of the 1953 "Tower" yearbook has a story about the completion of the mural in Brommer, which at that point was the dining hall.
Last year, before I began researching Marxhausen, I was working in Brommer when I met an older man returning for Homecoming. He told me that while he was here, Marxhausen used his hands as the model for the mural. The old student said that Marxhausen just called him as he was on his way out of the cafeteria, positioned his hands the way they needed to be, and drew a gesture sketch so quickly, it amazed the student.

The mural was covered up around the 70s.

This yearbook had a movie theme: the students were the "cast," the administration were the "directors," etc. This page was for the yearbook staff, and Marxhausen is one of the "producers." I take it this means he was the professor in charge of yearbook that year.
Here is his faculty photo, along with Koenig, who left Concordia his estimable collection of art which became known as the Koenig Collection.

Saint John Handout

[Update: I've now posted the whole handout in addition to the pages which show Marxhausen's stained-glass windows]
I was able to scan Saint John's old handout regarding the artwork in the sanctuary. The first two pages depict Marxhausen's stain glass windows and contain valuable information about their symbolism.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Marxhausen on the Trinity Sculptures

Don't try to understand the art. Just enjoy and marvel at it.
- Marxhausen in The Koenig Connection
I visited Seward's Memorial Library to see what kinds of books and videos they had on the subject of art. Sure enough, I found tape copies of the three Marxhausen films I had seen, and was surprised to discover a fourth.

I gleaned a great deal of information from this find. For example, Marxhausen's Open Book sculpture, which I have written about repeatedly on the Marxhausen blog, was referred to as The Holy Spirit, and the Son of Man be Free was called Christ Frees Us. The narrator described it as a "soaring, cement Bible." It appears that more than one title has been used for each of these sculptures over the years.

I'm curious as to why and when it began to be known by the name of The Open Book because the fact that the piece was originally called The Holy Spirit speaks volumes. It means each sculpture represents a part of the Trinity. Also, this is the only documentary I found which confirms that The Open Book is meant to be the Holy Bible, not just any book.

In the interview, Marxhausen told the story about how the school originally wanted a two-dimensional piece for the wall, but he suggested something three-dimensional which was away from the wall so that light could play across it. I had heard this story in other videos featuring Marxhausen's work, but what I learned from The Koenig Connection is the process Marxy used to build this piece. Here is Marxhausen in his own words:

It's important that we use the symbol of the Christian's most important book, the Bible, as a symbol for this art form. This piece of sculpture is very strong and powerful-looking, yet it's very graceful. It's a symbol of strength and peace for those who read the Bible. This book was made in a very interesting way. It was cast in cement in the earth itself. We shaped a book form in the earth and the cement was poured into the form. And after it set, we lifted it out of the ground and put it on this pedestal. I spent the whole summer just making this thing. It was really a very ambitious project, but it was very rewarding to be able to do something this big and it worked.
I finally learned the name of the artist who did The Son of Man be Free, Paul Granlund of Gustavus Adolphus College.

Marxhausen loved this sculpture, and had high praise for it:

It really feels good to take the cast off of a broken arm or leg and experience a feeling of wholeness once again, and that's what this piece of sculpture talks about. The base of the sculpture is a circle, perfectly round, and represents eternity. And over here are these wonderful footprints, which represent God stepping into time and space in the form of Jesus Christ to live and to suffer and to die and to rise again for mankind. And over here you can kind of see a symbol of a cross. The depressed sections represent death, and they look like casts, body casts. And this whole three-dimensional form represents resurrection and new life. And I think the whole sculpture is made of blocky fragments that emphasize this breaking out like spring when little plants grow out of the ground.

The play of light on these blocky forms changes every day. So here's this object in the middle of the campus, it's always there, but it's never the same.
The Creation sculpture was built by Arthur Geisert. Marxhausen had this to say about it:

This piece called The Creation is made out of hammered lead and over here you see the words of the narration of the creation from the book of Genesis. It's interesting that a piece of sculpture which represents God the Father is tucked away here by the music building on the edge of campus. God is not hidden, it is we who hide Him. And when we do that to creation, we rarely notice it and we take it for granted. And we need to be more and more aware of the wonders of these wonderful insects, plus all the magnificent things like galaxies and stars and mountains too.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Do You See What I See?

This brochure advertises an event hosted by Marxhausen. All I know about it so far is what I gleaned from the text on the back, but some of Marxhausen's contemporaries might be able to tell me more about it. It appears as though the event was about teaching people to look for beauty in unlikely places, similar to the message of his films, A Time to See and Findings.

Bless Kids With Rich, Multi-sensory Environs

[Edit:Notice that his list of credentials mentions four films. Time Lines, Findings, and A Time to See are pretty widely known, and have been preserved in Concordia's library, but The Koenig Collection is less widely known. I'm happy to report that I discovered a copy of this fourth film on tape and now have it on DVD. The quality of the audio is not as good as the other three, but it contains some excellent information. If anyone else owns a copy of The Koenig Connection with better sound, I would like to preserve it on DVD.]

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Time to See

This photograph was shown in Marxhausen's documentary, A Time to See, in which he talked how light can change ordinary objects into something rare and beautiful. Marxhausen was pleased to discover that on a particular morning, these buckets were smiling.