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 Reinhold Pieper Marxhausen  (1922 - 2011)

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Lived/Active: Nebraska/Minnesota      Known for: expressionist imagery painting, sound sculpture, photography, teaching

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Reinhold Marxhausen
An example of work by Reinhold Pieper Marxhausen
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from a blog, referenced by Karl Markhausen, son of the artist.

What Do You Remember?

Reinhold Marxhausen touched the lives of students, other artists and professors, and the whole community of Seward. If you remember Marxhausen, we'd love you to tell us your story.

Here are some of the memories his friends, peers and students have shared with us:

Marx was my advisor for my 4 years at Seward. He was pleased enough with my high school portfoliio that he let me skip "Kid Art" as we called Art for Children in those days. Marx also hired me to work 10 hours a week in what was then the Koenig Galklery, in the basement of Weller Hall under the chapel. I'd help habng shows, and worked at framing quite a few original paintings and prints that had been donated to the College.

I took all the classes Marx taught, and took Ceramics back home in Calif during the summer. Marx taught ceramics, but didn't like to throw, or teach it, so I became his assistant instructor for his nighttime ceramics class, and taught throwing. Once the art house was moved to the Scheuilke House across Columbia from Weller, the amount of productivity from art students really increased. A couple of us from Calif, including Ty Kraus, and some other enterprising art students like Milt Heinrich organized an outdoor art sale in the half-moon. It became an annual event (at least as long as we were there) and provided some much needed cash for struggling art students and gave us some worth as young artists. Marx also taught me how to weld.

Fun story #1 - When Marx was working on the Murals for the Nebraska State capitol, he wanted to have an open studio tour of his work in progress. However, he was shy enough that he didn't want to be there when people came. So he advertised his four Sunday open houses on the radio station as part of Harold Davison's show (Remember the House of Davisson - Everything for the farmer but rain!). He hired ME to greet people and give tours of the studio and mural, while he and Doris and the boys took a long long drive out into the country in their Rambler Station Wagon. He never did show up for the advertised events, and I'm not sure people were glad to see me in his places.

Fun story #2 - I was the campus photographer and needed to take photos of each faculty member. So Marx told me to come by his studio. He chose one year to mount his unicycle and have me shoot him pedaling down his street. A different year we were posing him in front of his marvelous house when his wire-rim glasses got knocked off and landed with a crack on the cement sidewalk. Marx picked them up, put the shattered lens back into the frame, put his glasses back on and said, "Take the Picture!" So I did, and we used the image of Marx looking thru cracked glasses for his official yearbook photo.

Fun story # 3 - It must have been in the late 60s that Banker's Life (I think) insurance company made a film about Marx called "A Time to See" which was a half hour visit with Marx while he talked about old barns, textures, looking at one thing and seeing something elkse. You could get it on loan from the Insurance company., I was teaching High School art in Hong Kong at the International School, and wrote to the company if they would give my school a copy of the film. They did... and I used it every semester for students, and even adult classes. It was stored in our librazry, and available to other HK schools on inter-library loan. I'm sure that one copy was screened at least 500 times. It may still be there 30 years later.

Dave Kohl
Class of 1968

November 25, 2009 |  Dave Kohl, CTC '68 (

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There are many ways to witness to the truth. Marx was not a preacher, but one would be hard pressed to wite a better sermon on the Christian life than the last two sentences in this article.
I never had this man for an art course at Seward. I did not see myself as being very artistic. Once, however, at a professional workship, Marx said to me, "You should be an artist." Well, Marx, a few book illustrations, paintings, and drawings later, I'm still not sure I'm an artist, but I'm sure having a lot of fun. Thanks.
Jay Musfeldt, Class of '63

November 26, 2009 |  Jay Musfeldt (

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Some people leave their fingerprints on you. Such a person is Marxhausen. For forty years I’d walk on the playground during recess pointing out the oil spots to students as they mixed with water into incredible colors and shapes. For forty years I collected student work. Once I even made sure a student didn’t throw away the sopping wet paper towel she cleaned a brush on. I let it dry and showed her how beautiful it was. I can’t tell you how many times I played with materials, building collages out of stuff others threw away. Once, I saved the back cover of the workbooks I took apart at the beginning of the year because they were a really cool color. I handed the paper out to use in an art project later that year. You should have seen what the kids did with it.

I played with words in composition class with the kids in the same way. We made throw away banners for church and chapel services so we would be forced to make new ones yearly. All these ideas had their genesis with Marxhausen.

I once asked Marxhausen when he would leave Seward. He said simply, “When I’ve seen everything.”

Paul Wollangk

Class of 1968

December 6, 2009

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is submitted by Karl Marxhausen, son of the artist:

1985--Doctor of Letters Degree, St. John's College, Winfield, Kansas
1984--Roscoe Shield Award Nebraska Art Educator of the Year
1983--Nebraska Governor's Award for the Arts
1978--Distinguished Alumnus Award, Valparaiso University
1974--Nebraska's Friend Award

Sound Exhibit
In 1980 Reinhold Marxhausen was invited to display thirty works in an exhibition of "Sound Sculpture" for the visually handicapped at the Atheneum Gallery in Hartford, Connecticut. A tour of this innovative work which has already been to twenty U.S. museums will conclude in Hawaii during 1988

Publications And Inventions
Articles by Marxhausen and reproductions of his work have appeared in numerous periodicals, such as Arts and Activities, Arts Canada, Craft Horizon, Ceramic Monthly, Esquire, LaRevue Moderne, and School Arts.
   Please Dispose After Use
   Bless Kids
   I Saw It On My Way Through

   Flurry (a creative toy for all ages)
   Flexcore (an armature material for sculpture)
   Stardusrt (a hand sound sculpture)

Major Murals And Sculpture
   --State Capitol, Lincoln, NE
   --International Center, LC-MS, St. Louis, MO
   --Lincoln Community Playhouse, Lincoln, NE
   --Jones National Band and Trust Co., Seward, NE
   --St. John's Catholic Church, Lincoln, NE
   --Southeast High School, Lincoln, NE
   --Grace Lutheran Church, Boulder, Colorado
   --Hope Lutheran Church, Park Forest, Illinois
   --St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Lakefield, Minnesota
   --Bethlehem Lutheran School, Dundee, Illinois

Films and Television
   1985--Participated in the "Strawberry Square" series for Nebraska Educational Television
   1982--The Koenig Connection (film)
   1977--Time Lines (film)
   1975--Findings (film)
   1973--A Time To See (film)

   1978--"Findings" selected for the International Film Festival in Milan, Italy
   1977--"Findings" broadcast on national television (PBS)
   1976--"A Time To See" given the Theological Educators in Associated Ministries Film

Award for best film in religious education
   1976--"Findings" selected for the American Film Festival in New York
   1975--"findings" won the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Award for Excellence

Lectures And Events
   1986 Appearance on the David Letterman Show, National Broadcasting Company
   1985 Seventy-five lectures and workshops
   1984 Appearance on CBS Morning News with Bill Kurtis
   1983 Film essay for Mary Kay Cosmetics, Dallas, Texas
   1980 Lecture at the International Conference on the Teaching of Art, Montreal, Quebec
   1978 Presentation at the North American Congress of the Laity, Los Angeles, Calif.
   1974-84 Artist-in-residence for Bankers Life Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
   1973 Presentation at the National Meeting of the Business Committee for the Arts, Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.
   1971 Nationwide tour doing creative workshops with 40,000 people

Reinhold Marxhausen has exhibited his creations throughout the United States.  He has  appeared on the "David Letterman Show," affiliated with NBC Television, and shared with the nation his unique sound sculpture.

He captures through creative photography the beauty of common things so that all may "see."

Marxhausen- artist, philosopher, communicator- opens eyes, stimulates thought, and lightens hearts as he describes a world filled with artist treasures waiting to be discovered.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is the obituary of the artist by L. Kent Wolgamott, Lincoln Journal Star, April 25, 2011.

Reinhold Marxhausen, an inventive artist whose sound sculptures landed him on late-night television and who has two mosaics in the Nebraska Capitol, died Saturday.  He was 89.
Born in Minnesota and a veteran of World War II, Marxhausen moved to Seward in 1951 to be the first art teacher at what was then Concordia College. He taught there for 40 years, but he was far more than a professor.

"It's hard to put one thing down," said his wife, Dorris. "This is his diversity. I wouldn't want him being called only an art professor.  He was happiest when he was exploring a new medium.  The two Great Hall murals in the Capitol were significant. That was a competition. He was the only Nebraskan of the five artists that participated in all that."

Marxhausen had only done murals for an elementary school when he was selected in 1965 to create two of the six mosaic murals in the Capitol.

"He did a lot of stuff that was photography, but you wouldn't call him a photographer," son Paul said. "He did sculpture, but he wasn't a sculptor. He made murals, but he wasn't just a muralist. He was an artist. I think, more than anything else, it was teaching others to see the art in the world."

Marxhausen got his widest exposure when he appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman" in 1986, demonstrating his Star Dust moon rocks -- palm-sized stainless steel objects made to look like rocks but with wires inside that created a symphony of sound. His work was included in nearly every national exhibition of sound-related art in the 1980s.
Marxhausen considered the Capitol murals his proudest accomplishment. In addition to those, he has murals in Lincoln Southeast High School, at a Seward bank and at Lutheran churches throughout Nebraska. He also created major work for the headquarters of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in St. Louis.

At a 1987 tribute banquet held in his honor, Marxhausen said he wasn't sure there even was art in Nebraska when he moved to Seward.

"Being here became a challenge, and I just think everything I did here was innovative," he said then. "I had to be innovative in order to get people to notice. You have to be nontraditional."

While others are remembering Marxhausen for his art and his contributions to Concordia, where the art gallery is named in his honor, son Karl had different memories when he signed the funeral home guest book.

"I wrote, ‘I remember when my dad built a sandbox for me and went on walks with his boys on Plum Creek out in nature.' People are looking at the bigger picture. I work in the school system, and I see kids that don't have dads. I had a dad. I had a stay-at-home mom and a dad."
Dorris Marxhausen said her husband began to get forgetful in about 1994 and later was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

"It's been a darned long time since he was capable of producing anything," she said.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Reinhold Marxhausen grew up in the 1920's and 1930's, the son of a pastor and one of eight children in Vergas Minnesota. He played the musical saw, he played water-tuned bottles, and he found piano lessons boring. He carried stardust in his pocket.

After military service, followed by degrees in art and biology, Marxhausen took a teaching position at Concordia College in Seward Nebraska, where he remained until his retirement in 1990.

It was in 1962 that he first began to work with sound objects. "It was a boring Saturday at the sculpture studio; no plans for the day," he recalls. "I found a door knob on the table and welded some wires on one end just for the fun of it. I placed the door knob to my ear and strummed the wire on the opposite end."


Since his discovery, Marx has made a wide variety of sound sculptural forms, and he has developed the door-knob idea in two main directions. One form consists of objects with exposed, external spines. some of the most successful have been his manual walkmans, (below) made like a pair of headphones, with spines sticking out from the metal ear pieces and sometimes rising from the over-the-head connecting piece. They make a stereo concert of lovely sounds, on a minuscule one person scale.

The other form is a small, chunky, metal object, fully enclosed, with no hint of what is inside. Sound comes from within when you shake or rock it, audible only when you hold it close to your ear. What is in there? Marx is not telling.

The objects are just pocket-sized and, recalling the meteor of his childhood, Marxhausen has given them the name Stardust. He makes them as plain in appearance as can be; they look like worn and dirty stones. There's a Marxhausen message in his having put so lovely a sound in such a homely thing.

Submitted by Karl Marxhausen, son of the artist


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