Stepping into Hartung's World

It feels like everyone around me is moving at a hundred miles an hour, and there’s no way I can catch up. These multifaceted digital dimensions and extensions of our online selves provide a source for others to judge us, to explore our interests and to take a step into our world. What is it truly like to be you, to be me? This is the question I have been asking myself about Mike Hatrung, a 72 year old  painter who currently resides in Lindsborg, Kansas.

I had a teacher mention his name to me and a brief description of his story, followed by a link to an article that featured Hartung. Proceeding this I decided to do what any person living in the 21st century would do… Google him. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

This was astonishing to me because the information was not at my fingertips, which is something I’m not used to. Most artists who have been selected for a solo show at least have a website or articles featuring images of their work. So after this anticlimactic event I had no choice but to visit the Salina Art Center, because the ambiguity and mystery behind not knowing was alluring enough.

My paradigm shifted after attending this show. There is something immensely beautiful about Hartung’s approach toward life and art. It’s extremely admirable that Hartung had no intention of ever sharing the 700 some paintings he created in the last 40 years. His humbleness and genuine regards towards the large scale masonite boards show honesty in every mark. He has no desire to sell these works, he never posted them on the internet, nor asked curators to take a look. He lived modestly and remained a recluse working in his studio for himself. What a true artist. I encourage those of you who haven’t seen the show to take a trip to the Salina Art Center, whose staff is incredibly friendly, and take a look into Hartung’s mind because it might be the only chance you get.

I’ll share a photo that anyone can find online of the charming Mike Hartung. I don’t want to give away the mystery that drew me to his work. I don’t want to ruin this phenomenon. But trust me on this one, his instagram, twitter, and facebook are on extreme lockdown, and unavailable to the public so this might be the only chance you get. ;)

by Madison Tubbs