Monday, December 8, 2014

carved wet and baked dry

Last Saturday I heard from Bill Wolfram. He told me the back story about the stacked words in the basement lobby of Weller Hall. Double click on images to enlarge.

In the fall of 1960,  Bill and Marx taught down the hall in the basement of Weller at Concordia University.

According to John Donald Weinhold, class of '56, that room first opened in the fall of 1952. It was the center of any and all art instruction. Which is sort of hard to believe in 2014. Because everyone knows Concordia Seward is known for its solid art programs.

Bill Wolfram said:
Concerning the carved bricks, Marx and I did that job. However, Marx was the supervisor. He was the main man. The wet bricks were purchased in Lincoln at the brick yard.

Two minute video. Consider the planning, cutting into wet clay, and baking section by section, and lining up the bricks just right to do this.
 (The whole idea and design was Marx's.) Marx did the two organic design panels next to the two stairs.
However, the two of us drew the letters and carved them. They were fired in a small kiln in the basement of Weller where we taught.
It took a quite a few kiln loads. Yes, they were carved in that basement classroom. (This was before the annex.) We installed it together. It was not that difficult a job to do. I do not remember what kind of glue we used. 
Across that hall space is a bench that is also made of bricks. Its carving is very minimal. Not so much an art piece.     Bill Wolfram (via email Nov. 1, 2014)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

poem by km


He caught it on film. 
The cycle 
in motion, 
from flower 
to fruit. 
Stand still 
gaze at it. 
The Multiplier of cells 
brings this pregnancy 
to full term. 
Behold, His hand at work. 
This One, engaged. 
His system of circulation 
is regulated 
by what He has coded. 
The flower withers 
and soon, 
the flesh of an apricot 
will be ready 
to pluck 
and eat 
and savor. 

The biologist 
knows more than I,  
what mechanics are in play 
for this stage to happen. 
This slide, 
this moment, this meditation, 
this exultation, 
this shout out to HIM, 
this hurrah, 
this trumpet blast, 
this pronouncement to this One, 
THIS one, HE, 
he makes, 
he makes a way forward 
in my day. 
His interest in me, 
his engagement 
with those I walk by,
 his conversation 
with his flock, 
his sheep know his voice, 
he calls them out by name, 
he names me, 
I am HIS, I belong to Lovely Majestic 
Gracious Transcendent 
Engineer and Manager.
        I place my song in YOUR hands, 
O King, O Friend, 
O Savior, 
O Lover, 
O Shepherd.
Thank you Marx for this ticket in, 
to your thoughts, 
your whispers of glory, 
your fascination, 
your worship, 
your call 
to stand still 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

present before you, come - part 2

"Be like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."           Matthew 13:52
music and voices, words to Him, being washed by this One, by this Jesus, surrounded by a people I have not met, who chant, who love, who gather, to praise this One, this Jesus, the one who makes me new, who lifts my burdens, who brings His embrace, who holds me right where I am.
i come to see the once tall mosaic presented sidewise on a church hallway. i come to see for myself, to touch the polished wood, and feel the cool glass with my fingertips, to video and record a work of my father and my brother. i read an history article from 2005 in the lincoln journal star newspaper. i read about the history of three altars.
when i stand and kneel and listen to the voices around me, there is joy, there is intent, and He comes, Spirit, Father, Son, His interface with my finite mind, tears whelming up, His gentle stirring, His intent, His joy, His being, His words spoken alive, His body presented as food, His mystery, this thinking entity, involved, near, within me, but not from me, His own personality, His own path, other than me, drawing my thoughts and hopes to Himself. more than wood and glass and fresh beginnings. more than words composed in a blog. you are. YOU  ARE. i am yours. you, Jesus, you.

'Renewed Beginning' to be celebrated at renovated church by Joel Gehringer (from the Lincoln Journal Star, July 30, 2005) double click on images to enlarge
     With the dedication and completion of their new church building in 1980, parishioners of the St John the Apostle Catholic Church celebrated a new beginning.
     On Sunday, members of the parish will celebrate a 'renewed beginning' as they open the recently renovated St John the Apostle Church, 7601 Vine St., for a public showing at 2 pm.
    Parishoners raised $650,000 in their "Renewed Beginning" campaign to redesign and replace the interior of their church. The campaign was a nod to their 1980 fundraiser "A New Beginning," which raised money for the construction of the building.
  "It was in need of some refurbishing," said Father Lyle Johnson. "It's been 25 years since anything has been done, and we did it as part of our 25th anniversary."
    Johnson said the project focused on dual goals of strengthening the interior's connection to St. John and improving the sacramental focus of the Mass.
    The building now features a new interior, complete with a redesigned entrance, a colorful sanctuary, fresh carpet, a tile center aisle and new pews.
  Where a wooden altar once stood sits a granite altar matching the marble steps, lectern and tabernacle.
    Three hand-carved Italian statues now surround the tabernacle---- a crucifix stands above, with Mary at the left and St. John the Apostle at the right.
     Along the sides of the interior, Stations of the Cross are found below scripture passages and quotations from St. John.
     "There's really no comparison (with the old design)," parishoner Bob Ruyle said. "It really made it warm, and it's a 'wow' to everyone as they walk in."
     The redesign improved more than aesthetics. Church members used the renovations as an opportunity to make the building more functional.
     Designers rearranged the layout to comply with new church regulations, and thin plaster was added to low wall areas, improving the acoustics of the sanctuary.
    "The sound has changed," Ruyle said. "It's more reverberant and easier for elderly people to hear."
    In renovating the church, parishoners also wanted to preserve the church's history.  That's why the designers kept the original stained glass windows in the back of the church. And a painting, which had hung behind the altar since the building's construction, has been moved into the hallway which connects the church to the parish school.
    "It gives people a look at the history of our parish," Ruyle said.
    Johnson said he enjoys the new look of his parish and thinks the objectives of the "Renewed Beginning" project were met.
    "It helpful for the worship of God at mass," he said. "I love it."
St. John Altars
Catholic churches have only one altar, symbolizing the one Eucharist (or) Mass offering us Jesus as the Bread of Life, the source and summit of saving grace.
Built for what is now called the old church in 1959, the original altar was steel-framed and wood-topped. It had the three steel crosses of Calvary across the front and a granite altar stone.

In 1980, built for what was called the new church, the second altar to be used as St John was made of oak and rebuilt around the original altar's steel frame ... with the three steel crosses still within it and used the same altar stone.

(See above, the wheat and grape mosaic on the front of the altar which related to the tabernacle mosaic which was done by Reinhold Marxhausen in 1980.)

In 2005, built for the renewed church, the third altar was made of granite and just below the top still contains the same altar stone of the original altar (from 1959) and three relics of saints, because the early Christians celebrated the Eucharist over the tombs at the grave sites of the martyrs.

I remember some of the old 4th and Seward church I attended when I was a young child. I remember the long slow prayers that the minister led us all in near the end of the worship service. Our religious classes took place in the basement. There was talk of a new sanctuary being built at the north end of Columbia Avenue. In 1968 it was modern, spacious, and full of color. (below, photo)

Today when I worshiped here, the newness of this space in Lincoln, Nebraska; the music, the new pews, and the renovated interior reminded me of 919 North Columbia in Seward. That parish was a Lutheran fellowship, and it also bore the name of John, the follower and disciple of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

More on my old church HERE. (accessed Nov 7, 2014)

present before you, come - part 1

i remember the idea. keep the visual arts fresh when we gather to meet. a noble premise. however, the fresh thing was not about longevity. marxie was keen on that. he held that people needed to be open-minded when newness happened in life. or within the church.
that said, i heard a lament in my brother's voice, when he learned that a wood and glass mosaic that he and his father had labored over one summer -- had been taken down during a church renovation. he now could identify with the feeling of loss with the approach of the new.

a montage of mural photos from the Marxhausen LTD collection, my video interview with my brother, and his memories about 1980 and the tabernacle mural. double click on images to enlarge.

An engineer himself at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Paul Marxhausen. son of Reinhold Marxhausen, recounts the tabernacle mosaic he helped build one summer while he was in college. In part one he shares about the adhesives that were used. Two minutes.

 Paul Marxhausen (PM): Work was not just the mural. It was over the top of the tabernacle, where they keep the host, the consecrated host. It is sort of like a sacred place, a sacred storage thing.
Karl Marxhausen (KM): Sure.
PM: Given the importance that they place on Christ's real presence in the host. So, yes, very dramatic.

KM: You said, there was like, little pieces of wood, you just had a whole bunch of little pieces...
PM:  Yes, on the top, little fragments of wood, that started short in front and then worked their way up, kind of like a wave going up on to the wall, and then joining the wood...
KM: So, you had to figure out how to do that. Did Dad just say, "Here. Do that."
PM: That. I'm pretty sure he did that.

PM: I was involved with the pieces toward the top. Mostly pieces of wood - the conventional -  for him...
KM: Yes.
PM:  Going, pieces down on a flat board. He did a lot of experimenting with adhesives too. Because we were just going to GLUE  TO  THE  WALL!!  We were NOT going to be bolting.

PM: So, we got a bunch of different paneling pieces and TRIED them, TESTED them to destruction. "ok, this is the one, THE ONE that's going to WORK!"

KM: (laughter) (pause) So, that whole thing was in sections?
PM: Yes. He was able to do it in sections, as was his USUAL PROCEDURE with wall murals. You know, to put it on a piece of plywood, build it, and then go install it.

Paul added in an email to me:  It *was* glued to the wall, the great majority of it.  I can't help thinking he *might* have put four anchor bolts into the cabinet at the bottom, because it levers out from the wall and had, I think, a metal cabinet in it.  But all the rest of it was the plywood backing glued directly to the wall.  The wall had some degree of textured surfacing sprayed on it, so we scraped it smooth so we would have the best surface to glue to. (from email Nov 13, 2014)

The conversation continues remembering the summer he helped his father install a very tall mural. A scaffold that went up the the ceiling. Four minutes.

 Paul Marxhausen (PM): Well, that was just a summer job. Dad had that commission, and it was summer time and I was at college, and so, sure I can do this.

PM: You know, as you remember, he had you and me working on the "wood part of stuff" all the time, he had kind of sketched out. And it was a good way to spend a whole summer with Dad. So, I got to help fabricate it, burn it, and then install it.

Which involved climbing up on scaffold, that was really tall!! I recall, I dropped his camera from the very top of the scaffold all the way to the floor and it didn't destroy it.

PM: Flabbergasted to see them take it out after such a short time. 

KM: Well, I saw it stretched out in that photo on the lawn, the north lawn. That it was almost the whole length of the north lawn. It was such a long piece.

PM: It was a very very tall piece. A very striking piece.

KM: So, did they require then, were they specific about wanting something that would go that tall??
PM: Yeah, it was, it was to go, it was the width of a structural element in that room. And so it just goes up the side of that. Very much meant for that space.

PM: It did make me think, you know when they were moving from the "old Saint Johns" in Seward, the old traditional church, to the new church, you know. And I was "a kid." And I didn't have a lot of "sympathy" for the people, who were pining for the "old" art work and the "old" atmosphere of the church. "That's going to be torn down. What a shame! That's terrible," you know. "Yeah, yeah. Get with it." Well NOW, I kind of, (laughs) HAVE more sympathy. Something that I was INVOLVED with!! And now, someone has decided that it's OUT OF DATE and moved it out of their sanctuary and put it some place else.

KM: That was one huge piece. A lot of glass.
PM: Yep.
KM: And he also did an altar piece.

PM: Yes, there's a thing across the front of the altar. Which translates okay to putting on a wall some place, but, the taking it down off there... (shakes his head)

PM: At the time too, when we were putting it in, you had this nice new sanctuary, they were putting these new modern things in there. But there was also these two things that had these kitschy plaster statues of Saint Joseph and Saint Mary.
PM: And they said, "Well, Father says, you know, THOSE HAVE to be IN HERE too!! You know, we got to have that!!!" (shakes his head) They really look out of place. That's the danger of the catholic aesthetic, I guess, when it comes to worship [sacred] art, there is an element of tradition that is more important necessarily than the artistic.
KM: Sure.

KM: About how much time did that take? All summer?
PM: Yep. It took all of that, two or three months. That was my whole summer job.
KM: What was it like being on the scaffold?
PM:  Dad was glad that I was there!!! It didn't bother me so much. We latched up pretty good, considering I usually have a fear of heights. Because we were right up to the ceiling!!
KM: That was like, what? Forty? Fifty?
PM: Yeah.
KM: ..feet up there.
PM: Straight up.