Thursday, May 4, 2017

saying it set it in place

In school I learned about electrons, protons, and neutrons. The pieces that make up an atom. A named attraction pulls these pieces together. The same attraction pulls atoms together on our planet Earth, throughout our Solar System, and out out out over in galaxies on the other side of the Universe. It is a constant. It is a boundary. It has been set in place. The words of the British astrophysicist Paul Davies tell me how important that particular attraction is in the scheme of things. 

In his book Superforce (1982) Davies talked about four constants. He concluded that all that exists is made possible by way of these four constants. His words are like poetry to me. The closest vision I have to the known universe is at my feet. Asphalt, embedded gravel, and the particulate that is revealed by deterioration on a sidewalk or a street.

"Without gravity, not only would there be no galaxies, stars, or planets, but the universe could not have even come into being, for the very notion of the expanding universe, and the big bang as the origin of space time, is rooted in gravity.  Without electromagnetism there would be no atoms, no chemistry or biology and no heat or light from the sun.If there were no strong nuclear force then nuclei could not exist, and so again there would be no atoms or molecules, no chemistry or biology, nor would the sun and stars be able to generate heat and light from nuclear energy. Even the weak force plays a crucial role in shaping the universe. If it did not exist, the nuclear reactions in the sun and stars could not proceed, and supernovae would probably not occur, and the vital life-giving heavy elements would therefore be unable to permeate the universe. Life might be impossible. When we remember that these four very different types of force, each one vital for generating the complex structures that make our universe so active and interesting, all derive from a single, simple superforce, the ingenuity of it all literally boggles the mind."         
(Paul Davies, Superforce, 1982)

In Judeo-Christian literature I have found this same view regarding boundaries. The poet credited a Maker for giving commands to the elements. Water fled at the sound of a Voice. The orbits of the sun and moon were drawn to circle the earth, and in this way help human beings keep track of time.

"You are clothed with majesty and intensity, You cover yourself with light. You spread out the universe like a tent and built your home on the waters above.
You placed the ocean over the earth like a robe, and the water covered the mountains. When you rebuked the waters, they fled; the waters rushed away when they heard your shout of command.The waters flowed over the mountains and into the valleys, to the place you had made for them.You set a boundary they can never pass, to keep them from covering the earth again. 
You created the moon to mark the months,the sun knows the time to set.Your constant love reaches the farthest reaches of space.Your faithfulness touches the atmosphere above. "
zig zig.  Song of David   
Opus 104 lines 1-3, 6-9, 19 and Opus 108  line 4   
1000 BC

An author of Hebrew descent described the constants of the universe as being thrust into compliance by a verbal order. (Hebrews 1:1-3) The words of a personal super-entity regulated every living system, right down to the atoms, and pieces even smaller. I think about that text like poetry, something to take my mind deep into thought. How the smallest of small, the proteins, how they assemble molecular structures as if by following written instructions. That is how biologist Michael Behe talked about molecular machines in the cell.  

Biochemist Michael Denton did not point to an entity or a maker, but his text convinced me that a simple protein molecule was capable of carrying multiple tasks, in ways much like the technologies human beings have coded, multiplied several times over. My eyes glaze over from the wonder of Denton's descriptions. I think about a voice giving instruction to proteins and the thrust to comply. Denton's writing gave credit to an entity none could match, one without a name, one with no foot print, but one which dumbfounded me, amazed me, wowed me, blew me away.
“We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction. In fact, so deep would be the feeling of deja-vu, so persuasive the analogy, that much of the terminology we would use to describe this fascinating molecular reality would be borrowed from the world of late twentieth-century technology” (Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, 1986, pp. 328, 329

 Out of nothing. The idea that all that is substance, and the incredibly small or beyond our ability to detect it with our instruments, all of that -- it came out of nothing. Once it did not exist. Then Time and Space and dimensions and worlds and entropy and dark matter BECAME.

A way of thinking, faith, can be had and held. Hope comes out of it. The certainty of things we cannot see. That people in ancient times were able to know God's approval. This way helps us to understand that the universe was thrust into compliance by the command of God, so that what can be detected by human beings and their instruments was made out of the absence of all things.  (Hebrews 11:1-3)              
"Contemplating the Rhythms and Boundaries That Your Voice Sets for Sub-Atomic Particles, While I Stand on the Sidewalk and Look Down at the Asphalt on My Way to School" by Karl Marxhausen

(courtesy of, accessed April 28, 2017) 



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

spring placements

Light Among Trees
Acrylic on panel, 2009
Janis and John Mc Kenzie, Clay County, Nebraska

You Paint Joy On Top Of Me
part of core series
Acrylic, sand, and charcoal ash on board, 40 x 40, 2002
John E. Brenneman, Kansas City, Missouri

Terra Wild
Acrylic on panel, 2004
Robert Cranmer, Carrollton, Missouri

Wall screen
Mixed media on burlap, 2014
Linda Birkes-Lance, Seward, Nebraska

Mother and Daughter in Samarkand
Acrylic on canvas, 2005
Frank Raasch, Norborne, Missouri

Ribbons   (details, above)
Acrylic on board, 7 x 31 inches, 2003
Susan Nashan, Carrollton, Missouri

Wired To Hear Your Voice 
part of core series
Acrylic paint, oyster shells on panel, 2002
Daniel Griffith, De Witt, MO

Monday Standing
Acrylic, 26 x 40, plein air, 2007
Janis and John Mc Kenzie

Acrylic on board, 2004
Linda Birkes-Lance

Bluff Creek April 2016
Acrylic on panel
Lori Buntin, Kansas City, Missouri

Dancing With Jesus
part of core series
Acrylic on canvas, 2001
Trisha Nyberg, Olatha, Kansas

 Sky Blue
Acrylic on panel, 38 x 28 inches, 2007
Janis and John Mc Kenzie

Afternoon On The Missouri River, Carroll County
Acrylic on panel
Linda Birkes-Lance


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

3308 flag

Tuesday, April 18th, went off without a hitch. When I pulled up to the Kansas City studio on Troost Avenue, the owner had my pieces waiting for me to load.

In 2011 my friend Lori Buntin offered to store my larger works. I am grateful she has.

I met Buntin and saw her paintings when she was at the Arts Incubator, 929 North 15th Street. The spot was a favorite place for Jan and I to visit on First Friday evening art hops in the Crossroad District. There were many art studios to look at and many steps to climb. Buntin's subjects were swimming pools, electric wires against the sky and she used lots and lots of aqua. A color I was intrigued with and wished to someday use myself.

Buntin and a jewelry maker Cathryn Simmons supported my art.

In February 2003, when my work showed at the New Works Gallery with the Kansas City Artists Coalition, the pair bought a painting from me. Above, "Sonata In Blue." 

It wasn't long before Buntin launched her own work space in the Troost area. Buntin and Simmons teamed up and renovated a warehouse on the east side, creating spaces for other artists to rent. In 2007 Hoop Dog Studios opened its doors.
You can see photos of their garden on their website. Jan and I stopped by to check it out. The enthusiasm to renovate and start new plant cuttings reminded me of my mother Dorris. She was gung-ho to plant trees.

The Kansas City Artists Coalition used to sponsor a city-wide art event called Open Studios. Artists pooled together. City maps with locations were posted. 
Art lovers came out meet the artists and see their work. I joined with others at Leawood in 2002 - Union Street in the West Bottoms in 2004, and at the Hoop Dog Gallery in 2008. 

Lori looked over the acrylic landscapes I had been doing. She was enthralled. She showed me how to make the pieces look even better with frames. I was impressed. 

 She became my framer for that show. More photos from that particular opening in 2008, next. Double click to enlarge.  

2008 left to right: Jan Marxhausen, Lori Buntin, Cathryn Simmons 


Buntin reinforced the back on larger works on mine. Cradled backing made a painted panel stand out from the wall and gave it a presence.

In 2012 when I did the linoleum reduction cut print and other woodcut prints for the Albrecht-Kemper Invitational, Lori did an excellent presentation for each. Mats, glass, and frames. I recommend her work!!!!!!

Which brings me back to the present and April 18th, 2017. It had been a while since I had viewed the oyster shell paintings. Works from sixteen years ago. Now THAT is RETRO!!! My remarks on one of the pieces from that bunch.

Below, leaning against the tailgate of my pickup.

Thank you Lori for bring works down from the rafters in the warehouse. (Are you related to Spiderman??) For helping me hoist into the back of the truck. For your useful cardboard between works. Thank you both for the storage you provide. Your encouragement every time we meet. Your appreciation. And your friendship as one artist to another. Blessings to you both in 2017 and beyond.

wait for it


Friday Saturday and Sunday rain was sent to soften the ground.

"One thing that’s obvious as I’ve browsed through the thousands of Marxhausen photographs my family has archived in recent years: every place that Reinhold and Dorris Marxhausen ever lived quickly came to bear the indelible stamp of their personalities and creativity.   No place was that truer than here at 540 where, over a half-century they made an old frame house and two bare lots into a place bursting with ideas and life, a home for family and a refuge for friends.  When their energy and engagement with this place faded away, our family labored long and hard to maintain and preserve the echos and memories of the life of this place.   That’s why finally surrendering that stewardship felt so powerfully like death for us."   Paul Marxhausen

1962 Designs, Reinhold Marxhausen at Mills College, Oakland

But that grief always recalls for me John 12 – “unless a seed fall into the ground and die, it remains alone … but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.”  
This imagery of renewed life and growth was one of Reinhold’s favorite themes and it was embodied in every living thing Dorris ever nurtured, and we see the reality of it here, today, as we break ground for the new Center of Liturgical Arts.  When I read the invitation to attend today another verse began to resonate in my brain:  “Behold, I do a new thing – now it will spring forth.  Do you not see it?” 

1961 prototype and 3 foot full sculpture, 
Reinhold Marxhausen at Mills College, Oakland

Ground breaking gathering, Monday, May 1.

"I do see it, I and my family, and we will watch eagerly to see what emerges."     Paul Marxhausen, son of Reinhold and Dorris. Address at CLA ground breaking, May 1st, 2017, Lincoln and North Columbia corner, Seward, Nebraska. Click to hear remarks:

Photos of event taken by John Nollendorf, a friend of Reinhold Marxhausen. Double click to enlarge images.

Interior of Marxhausen studio. Outline on floor marked where Reinhold assembled mosaic wood and colored glass for two murals in Nebraska State Capitol.

Paul Marxhausen, son Reinhold and Dorris, works for the University of Nebraska, as Supervisor of the Engineering Electronics Shop. 

"My warmest thoughts are with you from California to Seward, Nebraska especially on this day. 

What an extraordinary event to celebrate a groundbreaking for a new chapter in the rich lives all of you have experienced at 540 North Columbia Ave.  I cherish the memories of my many visits there with you, Dorris & Marx.    I join you in looking forward to the delight of knowing that artists will continue in the Marxhausen legacy of expressing God's eternal gift of art affirming the Good News of life in Christ." Mary Gunderlach.

(Family photos are property of Marxhausen Estate.)