As you may know, lately I've been trying to figure out how to find joy on a daily basis. Sometimes this is really hard for me. I don't wake up every morning and say, "Wow! A new day! Aces!" In fact, I hardly ever use the term "aces" but just go with me here. Sometimes I need a little inspiration, a little push in the right direction. One thing that always makes me love life a little more is finding beautiful things and looking at them or just being around them. And I'd like to introduce you all to a man who knew how to find beautiful things better than anyone else.
For the past two years or so now, I've been studying and learning about the artist Reinhold Marxhausen. At Valpo, I did some preliminary research (that kind of got snuffed out eventually - long story), but I really got to delve into Marxhausen when I got to Seward. In fact, if you know me pretty well, you'll know that this is the guy that my art exhibit in St. Louis is all about. Anyhow, Marxhausen started the art department at Concordia and taught there for about 40 years. He also happens to be the grandfather of my good friend Anne, who I basically knew from the womb. (Our moms and dads are best friends, it's cute.) There's the connection for me. But since jumping on the Marx train, I've been wow-ed over and over again, I can't even count how many times.
This man is so special and unique. His entire artistic philosophy was based around the idea that beauty can be found in everything and anything. A shadow in the bathroom, scraps of wrappers, piano wires, whatever. It was all aesthetically intriguing to Marx. And it shows in his artwork. While he did the traditional oil paintings and watercolors, his more interesting pieces are those that are made out of scrap wire or dryer lint (yes.) I'm not trying to give you an art lesson (not really, at least) but I am trying to point out how this man saw things. I mean, he knew how to see. And it wasn't just a phase he went through. Those who really know him say he was enthusiastic for the wonder of life every single day, because he could see the beauty of life everywhere.
So I have to ask myself, here's this man who I've been studying and he's a fascinating artist and a family friend. And if I think so highly of him (which I do), shouldn't I be infusing his philosophy into my life? I'm probably not going to go out and make a bunch of art, but it's a mindset that I can adopt and embrace. I find joy in beauty, and if beauty is everywhere...well, that suggests that joy is everywhere too. Why do I work so hard to deny that simple fact? All I really have to do is look around, and make sure I've got my eyes open.
(Also. I tried really hard to post some pictures here, but my grandparent's old computer isn't much for cooperating with the user. Rude. Instead, here's a video of when Marxhausen was on the David Letterman show with some of his sound sculpture. You can kinda get the idea of the type of guy he was.)