My Time Is Ford Times

Text Copyright 2011 R.P. Marxhausen - photos copyright 1951 Ford Motor Company

The summer of 1950 was a most uncertain time in my life yet it was delightful and care free. In retrospect it was my last great fling before the reality and security of possible employment. Hitchhiking through Michigan and living in the French Quarter in New Orleans gave me ample opportunity to do many watercolors using a variety of subjects and watercolors were portable and not as messy as oils. The thoughts occurred to me: why not do watercolors for publication in a magazine? Which magazine? Why not Ford Times?

Ford Times was a popular little magazine and an advertising promo for Ford Motor which featured articles about travel and interesting places to eat around the U.S.A. It was illustrated entirely with watercolors. I always enjoyed the illustrations and thought I could do work which was just as good.

  1. I wrote a letter to Arthur Lougee who was the art director of the publication and indicated my interest in doing some work for him.
  2. He answered and indicated that they have no art staff, but have a listing of artists from the various states who do the work when articles are written and submitted from various states.
  3. He asked me to send slides of my work which I did.
  4. He liked my work and "just happened" to have an article written by James Hendryx who had written over 50 novels in book form. The article was about Sauk Center, Minnesota, his home town, as well as Sinclair Lewis’s.
  5. Mr. Lougee sent me the manuscript of the article, asked me to go to Sauk Center to produce about a dozen paintings and they would pay me $75.00 for each painting they would use in the magazine plus pay for my expenses.
  6. How exciting it was to get a commission to do illustrations for a national magazine. I drove to Sauk Center filled with enthusiasm.
  7. The first stop one makes is the local newspaper office with the news that this little town will be featured in a magazine with a story and paintings.
  8. I painted about 14 paintings in a week. Wherever I went a small group of people would gather to watch. It was an exciting week. When I painted the dairy farm scene the farmer looked over my shoulder and suggested I include his cows. He got in a truck, drove way out in the pasture and herded them to the barn. It took a long time. The truth is, I painted the cows in the picture while he was driving out to get them.
  9. The paintings were sent to Detroit and they bought three for publication.
  10. The original paintings become a part of the Fort Times Collection of American Art by over 600 American artists from all over the U.S.A. There are 12 exhibits of 30 paintings each which circulate to countries throughout the world under the auspices of the United States Information Agency.
  11. My painting of Main Street became part of a traveling exhibit called "Main Street and Town" which was exhibited in Brazil and other South American cities.

Dr. Al Fuerbringer, former president of Concordia College was walking in the hallway in Weller Hall one day thinking about hiring an artist to begin the art department on the campus. He ran into the music instructor George Weller.

Al: "George, do you know of any Lutheran artist we can hire to teach art here at Concordia?"
George: "Funny you should ask. I was just down town getting a haircut in the barber shop. I looked through a Ford Times magazine and in the back there was a picture of R. Marxhausen who did some paintings. How about him.

Now you know the rest of the story.

REINHOLD P. MARXHAUSEN, who illustrated the Hendryx story of Sauk Centre, is 28, single, and an art student of exceptional diligence. As pupil and/or teacher, he has been at fourteen schools, including the Art Institute of Chicago, through which he worked his way by doing jobs in commercial studios and grave-digging in a cemetery. "I spend the winters at the easel and the summers at the wheel," he writes. "Nothing, not even foot powder, will cure my itching feet. I want to get places on the map as well as in art. Right now I'm working on a series of paintings te represent typical scenes of Minnesota. When I'm not working I comb the beach for driftwood to make furniture, or listen to music."