Saturday, May 29, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
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.
Friday, May 14, 2010
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.
Ted Kooser on Appreciating Everyday Things
...at 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."
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
The graffiti wall was the result on an uncontrolled activity. It was not planned, it broke rules...The wall is important. The wall is ugly when it shows neglect and indifference. The graffiti is really beautiful when you think of the function they performed for the people who created them. -- Written in Bless Kids [Emphasis added]
Don't try to understand the art. Just enjoy and marvel at it.- Marxhausen in The Koenig Connection
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Marxhausen would have passed by this sculpture every day on the way to work. Since every student of Concordia is familiar with this prominent sculpture, it's easy to make jokes about it.
The 'Son of Man Be Free' sculpture has been adorned with many costumes over the years, most of which were easily removed. However, a few students had to pay to have the sculpture restored a few years ago when their coating of clay and leaves damaged the finish. (From an article in The Sower, http://www.cune.edu/about/4/)
I've also observed a "For Sale" sign placed in front of it, fake police tape surrounding it, a Jack o' Lantern placed on it's head around Haloween, and a snow ball placed in it's hand after the first snow of the year. It is colloquially known as the "Naked Man Statue."
As a freshman, I wrote a haiku about the sculpture for a writing class. Haikus have three lines, the first with five syllables, the second with seven, the third with five again:
All ridicule it.
But was not Christ stripped naked?
For us ridiculed?
My idea was that it's very fitting that the sculpture is constantly ridiculed since it depicts Christ, who was ridiculed on our account.
I'll bet this statue appealed to Marxhausen because light can dramatically change it. Here is something he said about the statue outside of New Cassel Retirement Center in Omaha, NE:
This statue is not the same all the time. Here this hand is light and this hand is dark, and it changes. Sometimes both hands are dark, sometimes both hands are light…It changes. It doesn’t always look the same.
This observation can easily be applied to the "Son of Man be Free." All of these are photos taken around 11:00 a.m. In future, you can compare these to other sets of photographs taken at different times of day to see the dramatic effect of sun light for yourself.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
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 undramatic...as 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.