Hartman Rock Garden

Hartman Historical Rock Garden

1905 Russell Avenue at McCain
Springfield, OH
Environment with rocks

Recently restored by the Kohler Foundation, the Hartman Rock Garden is one of the most intriguing and revered works of in situ folk art, an outsider art phenomena where self-taught artists construct fascinating worlds out of concrete, metal, stone, and whatever else they can find.

Ben Hartman liked to work in the backyard. It was the Depression, and paid work was scarce, so he put his time, and not a little money, into a series of sculptures and tableaus that came to be known as the Hartman Historical Rock Garden. There’s a castle along the back fence, a Last Supper, the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge and Columbus’ birthplace. Ben the younger remembers it as a yard that was hard to mow around, but one that is definitely in a class of its own.

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(Photos & text © copyright 2006-2014 Kelly Ludwig, all rights reserved)


“20th Century American Folk, Self Taught, and Outsider Art” by Betty-Carol Sellen, Cynthia J. Johnson, Neal-Schuman Publishers, New York, 1993.

“American Self-Taught Art: An Illustrated Analysis of 20th Century Artists and Trends with 1,319 Capsule Biographies” by Florence Laffal and Julius Laffal, 2003.

“Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations Coast to Coast Travel-o-Pedia” by Randy Mason, et. al., Kansas City Star Books, 2009.

“Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Environments” by Roger Manley and Mark Sloan, Aperture, New York, 1997.

On DVD – Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, “Next Stop New England”, KCPT, Kansas City Public Television, 2003.