Laid off from an iron foundry in 1932, Harry George "Ben" Hartman started thinking about how nice it would be to have MAE WEST in his garden at 1905 Russell Avenue in Springfield, Ohio. Disinclined to be idle, the self-taught artisan bought his first bag of cement for fifty cents and browsed in the library for pictures of Mae in the newspaper.
• • By the time he had sculpted and painted his delicately scaled tribute to the screen goddess, Hartman was also busily adding complex elements like The White House (and other famous landmarks in miniature), religious scenes, and 1930s pop culture figures — — such as boxer Joe Louis and the Dionne Quintuplets — — all made from cement embedded with small stones. By 1939, when he finally rejoined the work force, Ben had created a full tableau he named "Hartman's Historical Garden," as promoted on an antique postcard. Though Hartman died in 1944, this one-of-a-kind garden has been maintained by his widow and then youngest son, until he, too, passed away in 2007. Recently, a foundation has raised funds to catalogue and restore the figurines so that visitors can enjoy this amazing site once again.
• • Even today Mae West continues to inspire artists. An article in The Times of India, discussing a renewed passion for collecting decorative objects, quoted artist Baba Anand, who held a local exhibition recently [April — May 2010] inspired by Dali and Mae West. Anand's garishly colored Tarot card "The World" prominently featured Anand's own spin on Dali's Mae West face and lips.
• • Mae West's Saliva Sofa • •
• • Tomorrow (or the day after) we just might share the latest dish on Dali's close buddy, Oscar Tusquets Blanca, the man who helped to design the plump red “saliva sofa” in the shape of Mae West’s lips that is one of Dali’s best-known and most provocative works of art. Tusquets has been dragged into an ugly censorship tussle that Mae would certainly sympathize with. Should we even get into this? Well, tune in to find out.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • Baba Anand's "The World" inspired by Mae • •
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