Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mysterious Chapel Art

This mysterious cross, discovered by Prof. Serk in the dorm building Streiter, depicts Christ forged from scraps of metal with a crown of thorns made of nails. Serk was teaching a class in Streiter, and when she saw this cross in a storage room in the basement, she realized the room most likely had been used as a chapel space by students years ago. She was also confidant that this was a Marxhausen.

The materials are certainly similar to those Marxhausen used in many of his works, and the time would be right. This would have been used in chapels during the years when Marxhausen was teaching at Concordia. When Serk was a student, Marxhausen was still the only art prof.

I would wager that this was by Marxhausen. At the very least, it must have been done by one of his students, using the techniques he taught in his classes.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

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.

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.

'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."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mysterious Mural in the Music Building

Around the 1970s in the music building, there was a mural painted on the wall which is now gone. It depicted dozens of black and white faces over a blue background. One would have seen it clearly while ascending the stairs to the second floor. Any alumni recall this mural or who might have painted it? Was it by Marxhausen, or did he do it with one of his art classes?

It was shown briefly in a clip of The Koenig Connection.

There was also a mural in the old game room which showed large white stars over a red and blue background with the word "Silverball" in the background.

Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail if you recall these murals.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Detail Shots

This first image was photographed by another Concordia student. This is her site. Last year, another student moved a for sale sign from someone's yard and placed it here. The artist saw this and found it humorous.

In these photos I took of The Son of Man be Free at 8:30 one February morning, you'll notice someone has put a snowball in his hand.

I didn't photograph it, but another student this year informed me that he saw a cigar placed in between the statue's fingers.

I wouldn't call these pranks graffiti, but some of them have resulted in lasting damage to the sculpture. Most likely, pranks were as common during Marxhausen's years with Concordia's art department. I wonder what Marxhausen would have thought of these pranks? Considering his comments praising the Christian-symbolism and technique of the sculpture, would he have been annoyed by this disrespect shown to an image of Christ?

On the other hand, here is something he wrote about graffiti on a wall:

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]

I've written earlier that I find a poetic irony in the fact that a sculpture of Christ is poked fun of and disrespected. Christ himself was treated with even less respect during his passion.

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 the title of the sculpture was not always the same. 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 inspired by the Holy Spirit speaks volumes. For example, the other two main sculptures depict Christ, and God the Father, so all three together represent the Trinity. Second, though I had made an educated guess that The Open Book represents the Holy Bible, it's only now that I've confirmed that hypothesis.

Some may view this sculpture and think of it only as a generic book. However, Marxhausen clearly wanted this sculpture to represent Scripture.

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 Marxy's analysis:

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.

Earlier, I used this sculpture as an example to demonstrate how something in nature can be constantly changing because of light. Marxhausen would have walked by this sculpture every day, but every day it looked different.

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.

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

Light's effect on an ominous tree

As part of this blog, I make an effort to see things in nature which light is affecting in an unusual way. This intriguing tree outside Weller first captured my interest months ago because it looks like it has an eye and evil grin. I snapped a photo thinking I'd wait and see if light changed this tree very much.

Marxhausen called seeing an aggressive act, and taught his students about how light can change things dramatically.

Two weeks ago, I saw an optical illusion created by light which dramatically changed this tree. There were storms east of Seward, so while the ca
mpus was full of sunlight that day, the sky to the east was dark blue and gloomy.

During the Spring Weekend celebration, as I walked home from Weller, I glanced the tree and it appeared someone had spray painted the back of it fluorescent orange. Could it be a prank, or some event? As I turned the corner however, I discovered the illusion was being created by a secondary light source, orange artificial light.
I had walked by this tree often, but this was the only night where the illusion was created. My theory is that because it was a stormy day, and the sky was dark blue, the orange looked more intense compared to everything else, which was lit by natural light with a blue hue.