Monday, August 17, 2015

what is red and black and clear?

    In her CES art room, my wife has plenty of real artwork for the students to view, question, and think about. Over the summer the room received a fresh coat of paint. She had me come in Monday, two days before the first day of classes at the Carrollton Elementary School. With a tall ladder I installed three hung works and placed works on top of shelves where she wanted them.

ABOVE, a few years ago we bought this metal blossom from the Primary Colors Gallery in Independence, MO. A heavy nylon line tethers it to the ceiling with two pencils. This was my engineering solution. See following photos.

Simply push up the ceiling panel and let the pencil do all the work. It works well.


Next, this yellow and green soft sculpture was created by a former student of my father at Concordia University and it is made out of sewn fabric.

In 2013 I used school supply packing paper to create a large weaving, BELOW. It measured 5 feet by 10 feet. This year I moved it to the opposite wall. My wife likes it very much. Tissue paper, yarns, and other bits of color have been added to it. Double click on images to enlarge.

It is tethered across the top in four places, BELOW.

As large as it is, pencils and string loops suspend it nicely.

On the top of cabinets, from the ladder on which I perched, items were set where she directed. The ceramic glazed tile sun was made by Jan Marxhausen. It measured 24 by 24 inches.

Above one closet a horizontal textured angel was lifted. The painting was signed "Art by Faye 2006." It measured 24 by 52 inches on composite board. The artist lived in Seward, Nebraska.

On a shelf top were put two paper mache frogs by the Overland Park, Kansas sculptor Maryellen Munger.  We bought these two at Linda Lighton's studio a year ago.


Spring Chick by Jan Marxhausen, welded metal. A happy face made of rusted heavy metal parts.

Next, when I was finished accomplishing her list, she showed me what I could build with. A sink full of this year's packing materials. Clear inflated units. In storage was the remains from the previous year. I could use any of it that I wanted.

of color 
with stickiness. 
Yeah !!!

to join the plastic units  
into a vertical column.

 First two minute video of nine foot creation.
there are trails
going up the back side 
you can see thru the front side         

there are suspended patches     
jutting off the edges  
held in place by  strategic stickiness  

And the whole column hovers away from the wall, so you can see behind it.
A lone pencil at the top secures it in places. How cool is that. I spent a chunk of time creating, peeling, manuvering, flipping joined sections over. A great time seeing this form unfold in front of my eyes. Oldenburg on a small-scale. Pzamm!!!

Second two minute video.

Classes start again on Wednesday in Carrollton, Missouri.
Have a good year Miss Jan!!!!!!

(Munger link courtesy of accessed Aug 17, 2015)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

apple and radishes

      It was the week of his swimming lessons that my nephew and I spent our lunches at the City Park. I had agreed to be the driver. Every day I swung by to pick up him from daycare. Every day I sat inside along chain link fence of the pool. Watching the group of younger elementary students he was with, as they practiced bobbing their heads below the water, took turns ducking underwater to retrieve weighted rings, and floated on their backs.
     Earlier that day I prepared the sack lunches we would eat after he got his clothes together and the wet items wrapped up in in his towel. This was a kid who usually got a meal at Mc Donald's. Not with Uncle Karl, not this week. So it began.
    On Monday I learned he liked eating peanut butter and he also crunched on carrots and preferred apple juice. Because it looked rainy, we sat under the roof of an open air shelter house. I offered him some chopped up watermelon. He shook his head no.
    On Tuesday we sat at the picnic table closest to the swimming pool parking lot. He noticed the little plastic tub with carrots, and two others that had watermelon chopped up. He told me he was not going to try the melon. He didn't care for it. He did eat his peanut butter sandwich and told me the bread tasted like the kind they ate at home. I ate all the watermelon, both tubs and my sandwich.
    On Wednesday we drove around the City Park in Carrollton, and he picked another open air shelter house, and it had a nearby water spigot. Absent from the sack lunches was the bread. We both got one little tub of peanut butter, one apple, and one spoon. There was also a baggy with radishes. He told me he wasn't going to try the radishes. I demonstrated how to cut chunks off his apple with the metal spoon. A digging motion. Pushing down from the top or turning the apple sideways and digging little pieces off of it. I showed him my pile of small bits and challenged him to try for smaller pieces. The competition worked. Our lids off the peanut butter tubs, we dipped our apple bits, and enjoyed PB on apple. After finishing our apple juice cartons, I had him slowly divy up the one banana. One small piece for himself and one for me and then another small piece for himself and one for me, and so on, until we each had at least four small sections of banana. He figured out how to do it.
    At the end, he carried our trash to the waste can, just like he had done every day this week. Then I pulled out my red handkerchief and showed him how to get water out of the spigot and get the kerchief wet. And, of course, he wanted to do it all by himself so I let him. He got it good and wet. Ha. Ha. Ha. Then we walked back to the cleared wooden picnic table, and I explained how by draping it across his whole palm he could wipe the surface of where we ate -- and he did. Then back to the spigot,
and he rinsed it off himself, and shut the handle down himself to stop the water flow. Then I wrung out the red kerchief with my hands and showed him how to fold a bandana and wear it to look like a train robber. He loved it. Then I showed him how to point his index finger toward me and say: "Reach" or "Get them up." He did and I raised my arms up above my head. He loved it. He tried that out some more. Then he asked if he could wear the bandana in the truck while I drove him back to daycare and I said yes.
     We practiced saying "Ban" and "Dan" and "Dan's Band" and he figured it out.
     On Thursday, our last day to have lunch that week, we sat on a sidewalk at the park near some picnic tables. It was hot out so we sat on the shaded part of the walk. He divided up the one banana into pieces for us both. There was a little tub full of peanut better and there were our apple juice cartons. No spoons. If you needed a knife to put the PB on the banana you used your finger, and he did. I know at his house he is not allowed to lick the butter knife, so it was a joy to see him lick his fingers. Ha.Ha.Ha. I had some large romaine lettuce leaves for myself, which I spread with PB. Delicious. The best, in my opinion. So I asked him what he could call the tub of PB? and he said "peanut butter dip."
What would he call a carrot dipped in PB? He called it: "carrot peanut butter." What about lettuce and PB? He called it: "lettuce peanut butter."
And what about apple in peanut butter? He called it: "apple peanut butter." What a great week it was!!!

Friday, August 14, 2015

so much joy, so much pain

       In this part of the universe the growing relationship with friends Charlie and Jennie, the moving of the Holy Ghost, going out to paint for the first time in two years, burden bearing the cries of my friend over the telephone, the yin and yang tug and push of God in my life -- it's all happening at the impulse of His love.
    A combination of stress over my friends last Saturday night, and the attack of pain in my upper left arm, drove me to seek relief Sunday morning at the E.R.
   The doctor recommended blood tests for me and said I should stay at the hospital all day Sunday, and over night. I was released around 10:30 am Monday morning. A distinct pain in my upper left arm prevented me from sleep. None of the blood testing relieved THAT sensation. I left the hospital with the same annoying pain that came in with me.
    Friends and family rejoiced that all the blood tested came out NORMAL. The cardiologist on Wednesday affirmed I am in the clear. Thanks for the many prayers on my behalf.
    As soon as I was released, my wife drove us over to a chiropractic clinic in Carrollton-- and what was DONE TO ME, quieted that distinct pain in my arm. That night I slept without THAT nerve signal keeping me awake.    I was negotiating a host of other "new pains" though. The ice gel pack I bought helped.
    I am hanging on to my faith in the goodness of the One who loves and leads me thru these pains. When I go to the grocery store I cannot linger while I shop. My neck muscles and body reactions are telling me to get done with business and get OUT OF THERE. My emotions are calm inside, my body is going haywire.

    So, now it's last Tuesday morning--while I am waiting for my weekly wound clinic appointment--the Holy Ghost is downloading new verses to a song I penned back in 1990, twenty-five years ago!! New verses out of the pain and joy I am experiencing right now! The walk with a god that is interacting with me daily, friendships, crisis, art, being mindful of my limitations, stepping out to sing in Charlie's living room, Jennie and him chopping up tree debris in our side yard, such big giving hearts, and now being pumped full of joy out of this re-mixed re-honed melody and verse.
     My leg nurse regarded me busy with my papers and pen on the waiting table, where I usually relax before being attended to. When the vibe is right it all flows together, I told her. She said it sounded like a gift. I told her, when the vibe is not there I can't do anything, it just won't work!!
    After the treatment and my ankle getting dressed with wrapping gauze, I hobbled back to the lobby, and plopped in a seat--to resume the re-write. I told Nancy Lock who passed by: "there is so much joy and so much pain right now. And God is bringing forth a new song to sing at church." She replied, "Looks like God is giving you creativity!!"

    Five days later the chant is ready. I have two versions. One is slow and clear for learning the verses. The second runs through the chant at a regular pace, what I envision will be the congregations pace later. The chant is based on Philippians chapter 4 verses 4 and 6. I've never been able to put music to it and, in my opinion, it is not meant to be a performance-song. But rather, something to say, speak, and get into your spirit. For faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Hearing it over and over builds a neural pathway and you remember the content, it becomes a part of who you are.

     All that You are has proven to be
     You act, You give, and You lift me
     You speak, You release,
     for this I give praise
     Sing it again !!
     Your name I raise.

I love these words. A declaration of where I am and who God is to me.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

artist with wrapped foot - me

  Last Thursday I ventured out with my hobble, my wrapped foot, and found that I could still paint. Thanks to my wife Jan, the Carrollton art teacher, who said she wanted me to try doing art.

Ten minute video on site.
The painting ABOVE was the last one I had painted at Moss Creek two years ago now. It measured 40 by 36 inches. I packed it along last Thursday, hoping I could do as well on the blank canvas I had brought. Finished, BELOW. That one measured 20 by 16 inches.

    I turned 60 years old two weeks ago. Artists can have health issues. I do. Gratefully, the recent painting was made. I am very happy with it.

   The blow back came three days later. The lifting of the paint supply pack strained my back and the left upper arm, which landed me in the Emergency Room Sunday morning. I am not in the physical shape I once was. Venous stasis ulcers on my ankles are due to poor circulation. Welcome to being a silver-haired senior. Ha. My weekly visit to the wound care clinic reminds me that I am among the living, my nerve endings still work, and a slow steady gait is much safer for me these days.

    My emotions are calm, my body is wigged out. God makes a way. Still trying to be open. But as the nurse told me about the treatments: "We'll see how your body handles it."



Sunday, August 9, 2015

enamel on steel - dhaemers

      As I sort through the estate files and pull together pieces of art made of the same materials I have come across the medium of enamel-on-steel. As Reinhold Marxhausen ventured into sculpture it was his instructors at Mills College who guided him. Robert Dhaemers was the one who introduced Marxie to glass enamel on steel in 1961.

Below, photo of Dhaemers and two examples of his jewelry. Dhaemers was described as an organic modernist.

Robert A Dhaemers was influenced by Metal Art Guild founder Bob Winston. More on Bob Winston and  resources at

(Records of Reinhold Marxhausen coursework of Mills College, courtesy of Marxhausen Estate and Concordia University, Aug. 8, 2015)
(Photo of Dhaemers from Obituary, accessed Aug.8, 2015 .) (Photos of Dhaemers jewelry, accessed Aug.8, 2015

Questions to explore further (beyond this blog post):
  • How does modernism show up in Marxhausen's sculpture?
  • Dhaemer paid attention to the patina and surface treatment of his sculpture, did Marxhausen display the same treatment? In which pieces? How may Marxhausen's enamel work have differed from Dhaemer's?
  • Dhaemer was interested in the sculpture seen in the round. Marxhausen treated his enamel on metal works in the round as well.

Like his instructor, Marxhausen experimented with some ornamental forms, see ABOVE.

Sculptor Arthur Geisert remembered one specific work by Reinhold Marxhausen.
  "You dad did a sculpture. It was a bright red pomegranate. It was enamel on metal. He did enamel on metal at Mills." 
(Courtesy of phone interview with Karl Marxhausen, Sept. 16, 2014, from 2:15-2:30 pm)
"I remember the smell of baked enamel. Dad had one plate for me to scribble on and one for my brother. I don't remember the specifics, but you can look at the items yourself, and guess what that process might have been. Glass powder on metal, heated in a kiln, taken out and drawn on with a metal wire, all under the watchful eye of my father. It's seems dangerous now. But the orange enamel matches the orange used for the pomegranate. My hunch is that he shaped the metal first and then paint on the glaze and heated to melt the powder."         Karl Marxhausen

The piece Dad helped me with measured 8 by 12 3/4 inches, BELOW.
I was age 6.

My brother's piece BELOW. It measures 14 3/4 by 4 3/4 inches. He was age 3 years when Dad helped him with it.

Marxie made a work entitled "Compatibility" while at Mills College.
The enamel on steel dates the piece to 1962. Close up below.

My father also welded decorative metal flowers in the school studio for graduates. Seen next to the four-plex apartment, BELOW, at  3237 64th Street in Oakland, California, ABOVE. (City map, courtesy of Google and Douglas Johnston, an alum of California Concordia College, which was also called Triple C)
Grad student Reinhold Marxhausen
Our family (left to right):
Paul, Karl, Dorris, and Reinhold (who preferred being called Marxie)