Wednesday, April 29, 2015

being made

Double click on image to see how it was assembled.

Two minute video.

"Being Made In His Hands"
Mixed Media, 17 by 36 inches,
Karl Marxhausen, 2015

just how it is these days

Well. It is under a wrap, a sock, and a sandal.

A visit with my mother Dorris at the Arbors.
Twelve minutes.

These days this is how it is.

My beautiful left ankle. In this small area there many nerves ready to tell me they are connected and they have a voice. "We are tender. Listen to us."

My lovely right ankle. This hydroconductive Drawtex material is engineered to keep the moisture level just right for healing. It also absorbs moisture if it gets to be too much. Remarkable. I am living in the future. Ha.

The drainage in my wound dressing, which I have changed myself the last five weeks. Amazing fibers. The pain is less amazing. I do NOT LIKE IT when it talks to me.
My sister-in-law tells me, "It is good that you have feeling in your legs. Because some people have lost that sensation. And pain tells you something is wrong and requires attention." God, you created pain. Thank you that I can experience it. Ouch!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


       His ride had dropped him off in a tiny fishing village along Lake Michigan. He found an apartment for himself from a very nice old lady Mrs. Belanger. Her dog's name was Taffy. He could check out the town tomorrow. There were sure to be scenes he could paint from, more fish houses, fishing boats and vineyards. The road sign told him Leland had a population of three hundred. It would do for now. A dollar and a quarter for each night's stay was what Belanger asked for. He had brought money for this trip. Last night he had stayed in Manistee and two nights before that at Saugatuck.

      Already his adventure had paid off. He was exactly where he needed to be. The countryside was full of vistas. Yesterday he saw beautiful lakes, trees, cherry orchards, birches and the terrain was very hilly. He got a ride with a fruit peddler to Arcadia and met a fellow from Valpo who took him to the Arcadia camp. The sight took his breath away. If it was possible he wouldn't mind spending a few weeks there. A very ritzy set up. Then an old couple selling strawberries drove him to Frankfort. He glimpsed the Crystal lake off in the woods. He heard the story about the Sleeping Bear and saw the Michigan sand dunes that stretched forever.

      He unpacked his supplies and looked again at the tugboat he had done in Saugatuck. There was something about tugboats that he liked. They were like little work horses. He looked at the row boats he found along the Kalamazoo River. Then the little tugboat underneath it. His face beamed. He had taken care with that one. That is nice, he thought grinning. Yeah, he liked that one a lot.

      What he did not like was the seasonal rain that stole time from him. 'Why does it always have to rain when I want to paint?' he thought. It had been raining from the moment he started the trip. So much for his hitch hiking plan. It was the bus that got him out of the city, away from Valpo, and farther up the road to Michigan City. He had everything he needed. His clothes, his belongings, his sketchpad, his hat, and his paint kit. Well, almost everything.

      He raised his head to listen. He could hear the crackle of laughter and shouts coming up from the beach. The painting class from Michigan was there. They would be having a beach party, he knew. The big apartment all of a sudden felt lonesome to him. This was not Valpo. His friends from college were not around. There would be no party with him tonight. He could sure use the company though.

     He enjoyed the fellowship of artists. For instance, take Mr. Joe Trevitts of Manistee. Just this morning he and Trevitts were discussing the dune paintings in the grocery store. Yes, in the grocery store. Trevitts had trained at the Philadelphia School of Fine Arts out east and kept a studio in Pennsylvania. He moved to Manistee to do a portrait of one of the well-known lumber men and a slew of portrait commissions came his way. A local gal married him and he took over her father's grocery store. But what he wanted to do was get out there and capture the trees, the dunes, the sky, and Lake Michigan on canvas. He loved the sights and the smells of that gorgeous countryside. Composing an image outdoors was no easy matter. One had to paint quickly and decisively. It was hard work. Both men understood that well. And Trevitts, yes Trevitts, had very good work indeed.

      'I hope it's nice tomorrow,' he thought, as he gathered his equipment together. 'I want to paint it all.' He knew he wasn't going to be the only one out there. There would be twelve other artists. The students from Michigan State were there.
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[Leland Shanty by Reinhold Marxhausen, journal sketch, June 1948. Tugboat by Reinhold Marxhausen, watercolor, June 1948. Joseph Trevitts info courtesy of Rebecca Motts, Professor of Art, West Shore Community College, 3000 North Stiles Road, Scottville, Michigan 49454  via email March 12, 2015. Story by Karl Marxhausen, copyright 2015. The narrative was based on journal entries by Reinhold Marxhausen, from June of 1948]


out on the rocks

   In June, the summer of 1948, a handful of art students from East Lansing were spread out over the village.

Sally Chadwick was working on a watercolor of the Leland city post office. It was all sparkly. But it wasn't going the way she wanted. Just her luck, the roaming paint instructor showed up. What to do? Ralf Henriksen stood quietly beside her, taking in every detail. Finally he pointed and said, "That's a nice sign there." The placard on the building in her watercolor drew his compliment.
The summer program had been just like that. There was lots of work to be sure. But when they all met at the end of the day, the instructor from East Lansing was there to make comments, maybe a suggestion or two. He appreciated all their effort, their willingness to go after it, their fortitude to push themselves. Growth had its own reward.

   Michigan State had an art school in Leland.
The six week program was held in the summertime.  
When Sally heard about it she talked with her mother, who said she could go. The next school year she would graduate, and she wanted to take part before she did. She told her sorority sister and fellow classmate, Helen Galoff, about the painting class, and asked if she was going. Helen told her parents about it, and found out she could go as well. 

Sally had known her friend from the big high school both went to in Detroit, and kept bumping into each other when they had art classes at Michigan State. Since she had no car of her own, Sally's parents drove the two of them up and got the lodging settled. Meals were provided through the college like usual. Fees were paid with the tuition, and students received lunch and dinner meals at the Blue Bird in Leland. On the map, Leland was on the upper northwest peninsula in Leelanau County. A five hour drive from the city of Detroit.

     It was one day, when they were out doing their assignments, that they noticed
someone out on the breaker rocks that lined the Leland cove. Out, beyond the end of the long wooden pier. Out on the big white rocks, somebody was sitting. All quiet. Focused on painting. He wore a light rimmed hat. He had his shirt off. He had a deep tan. He looked good. He kept on working. He wasn't with their class. Who was this mysterious person?

       The second day they noticed him, he was painting closer to the shore, at a location closer to the group.  They saw him walk by. Little by little they got to know him. He made them laugh. He was older than the guys in the class. He was right out of the service. He was an itinerant painter. They called him Reiny.  
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(Drawings of students by Sally Chadwick Mc Kenzie, photos of Fish Town and students beside MSU art exhibit sign, photo of Reiny seated, courtesy of the artist, Harbor Springs, Michigan.)

(Photo of Ralf Henrikson with student, courtesy of Michigan State University, Department of Art and Art History, and Leelaneau Community Cultural Center,, accessed March 4, 2015)

(Story by Karl Marxhausen, copyright 2015. Narrative was based on conversations with Ms. Mckenzie in February and March 2015)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

building inroads

there has been lots of scooping and sifting in the "boneyard."  Boxes sorted, useless papers tossed, while (at the same time) eyes wide open for significant documents. Like, the letters that commissioned Reinhold to build the two mosaic murals for the Nebraska State Capitol. These have been found. Thanks to Chris Miller.

The college where Reinhold taught is taking interest in "the repository."

What remains are the building of inroads. That is, pathways between "this" and "that." What Jody Boyce called "web content."  The end product should not be a hard drive full of digital photos. For researchers to be able to navigate and find, one must have highways established. Like cyber elevators, hallways, windows, buttons to push, rooms to enter and exit.

This post is open thinking, my thoughts only.

A backbone, a conjecture with tendrils coming off of it. Something over a span of time that gives others opportunity to build upon.

Here is one such premise to pursue with Reinhold Marxhausen. (I have started a folder, adding photos as I come across them.)

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Reinhold is known for his paintings. He had lots of undergraduate classes in Painting. But nothing in Sculpture. I'm talking about before he began teaching ART at Concordia Teachers College Seward. He didn't get his teaching degree IN ART until he was TEN YEARS into it. So, what did his learning curve into sculpture look like?

There was something about DRIFTWOOD. It was FREE. He was drawn to it. It fit his adage of "use what you find." In June of 1948 he found plenty of it along Lake Michigan near Leland, but the pieces were too large to carry back. In 1953 he had driftwood for a centerpiece on the carpet in the middle of his small bachelor apartment. He made furniture out of it, a tray, candlestick holders and lamp stands.

(Click on photos to see enlarged. Driftwood tray
and  two driftwood lamp stands, below).

I propose driftwood was the first 3D sculpture material he could appreciate.

Reinhold worked with PLASTER. no date yet. perhaps 1952 or 1953 or 1954. It was when his work space was the third floor of Founders Hall at Concordia College in Seward, Nebraska.

He carved or shaped this "plaster- stone material" between 1955 and 1958. This was when our family lived on the third floor of 316 North Sixth Street, formerly known as the Concordia Apartments.

He carved the MARBLE face of Christ. No date yet. Work space on third floor of Founders Hall.

He carved a STONE eagle. No date yet.

He used STRING and inflated BALLOONS and liquid STARCH or PLASTER SLIP or CLAY SLIP to create shapes. 1957. This photo of student Wally Sailer was part of an article Marxie had published in Ceramic Monthly.  He dipped and re-dipped a balloon to built up layers of clay slip, and so thicken the walls, and then modified it to make an owl bank, below. This was found at the third floor apartment in my bedroom.

He used PAPER MACHE. In the third floor apartment (1955-1958) he had paper mache forms suspended from the ceiling.

He hammered sheets of COPPER to make relief door panels for Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. 1957. He did the shaping in his third floor apt art room.

He made TERRA COTTA figures of Christ for the prayer chapel in the women's dorm Schuelke and the men's dorm Jesse. 1957 The top photo terra cotta figure was probably a prototype for the bottom photo. The prototype was found on a shelf in Reinhold's art room in his third floor apartment.

From a seven inch plaster maquette (top photo) he used CEMENT and rebar (middle photo) to make an outdoor installation. 1959

Reinhold made a fifteen feet totem with CERAMIC, WOOD, BRASS, and STEEL for the California Concordia College in Oakland. 
For his graduate degree in art, Reinhold took sculpture classes under Professors Hayes and Turner at the California College for Arts and Crafts in the summer of 1961. He took Modern Art History under Alfred Neumeyer, Photography and Technique of Sculpture under Robert Dhaemers, and Ceramic Sculpture under Antonio Prieto at Mills College during the Fall semester. The Spring semester of 1962 he took the Technique of Art for Sculpture, Photography, Ceramics Sculpture, and a Graduate Seminar. 
According to sculptor and family friend Arthur Geisert, Reinhold had ceramics under Spanish potter Antonio Prieto. Robert Arneson was also at Mills. 
"Prieto had an influence on Robert Arneson. Your parents both knew Arenson. Your father was influenced by Prieto and Arneson."   Arthur Geisert, Elkader, Iowa

In May of 1962 Reinhold got his Master in Fine Arts degree, that the administration at Concordia in Seward wanted their teaching staff to have.

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The point here is this: the photos for this post came from many bins and folders of digital material. I assembled it by starting my own folder and building on a premise. Right now there is no easy passage. There is no construction for surfing or word searches. NONE. There ARE folders for ceramic work, metal work, mosaic work, drawings, watercolors, oil paintings, banners, stained glass, mixed media, photography, sound sculpture, maquettes,  installations, inventions; periods of time for Reinhold before Concordia, schools Reinhold attended, military service photos from Fort Custer, Fort Snelling, Serbo-Croatia training in Pittsburg, New Guinea, the Phillipines; for Dorris before marriage, for Rein and Dorris and Karl and Paul for each location their family lived; letters for commissions, letters of thanks, letters of rejection, magazine articles Reinhold wrote, published books Reinhold wrote, published poems, unpublished concept books, newspaper clippings on Reinhold, films about  Reinhold art events, transcribed interviews related to Reinhold, his notes, his essays, and his talks.

   WILL researchers be able to look through bins of photos TO FIND and then CREATE A ROOM like this blog post, so that others can FOLLOW THE PREMISE ???

   One must dig, and sort, and identify photos or letters or documents and have a folder to present ==== before    A  BOOK    can be laid out! Having the repository itself will not make books. Ha. The repository will need folks "to-pick-up-their-favorite-rocks-and-sticks-and-bottle-caps-and-string" and put it in their pocket.  To mull over.  To catch a vision.  To make sense of what they got.

    This is what my brother and I want to see. Not a mausoleum crammed with paper. But a living breathing "look what I found" and "hey, did you know that" and "look at his reach, he spoke to this and this and this."   An ongoing discovery. Adding on to what was FOUND, through the eyes of many on their own journey forward in Christ. This One who made Reinhold is making you and me. Chromosomes activated integrated with energized elements, freely expressed into LIFE. Marxie was turned on. We are turned on. By this brilliant personal King eminant Savior and intelligent Healer.

[Geisert quote, phone interview with Karl Marxhausen, Sept.16, 2014. Photos coutesy of Marxhausen Estate LTD, Seward, Nebraska. Text and material is copyrighted 2015 by Karl Marxhausen.]