Elemental Awareness – Enchanted Hart Haus
Life can be a bit of a mystery, or a magical and spiritually awakening experience. If you are up for an adventure and in the mood to connect with the elements, Steve Hartbauer has created a home that lends itself to, and welcomes, the obscurity as if to say that life dances in front of those who choose to see it. With materials both found or kiln-fired, his home is a mosaic centerpiece that makes you look not once or twice but possibly three or four times -hopefully without causing an accident- which is why ArtBeat suggests you safely pull over to take in the view.
“My wife, Amy, and I had been together about a year, and decided we wanted to buy a house. At first, we were thinking, maybe we should go to New Mexico because we wanted to get some goats and some other animals too. I think it was about that time when Obama administration announced tax credit for first time home buyers and we saw this place and that money was our down payment,” Hartbauer details. “We worked on the inside for about a year. Amy is sort of an interior designer, so she got to do the inside and I got to do the exterior. We thought we wanted to do something real funky with this place ’cause we decided we were going to stay here, and we could actually do what we wanted to, no overhead or HOA stuff.”
The front porch is a metaphor, Hartbauer explains, for water. Blue, green and white tiles splash upon the surface of Hart Haus as if they were waves. “It is not meant to be literal”, he adds. “I love Venice Beach, California, and wanted it to feel like that. I had already put a big dent in this when I saw Park Gruell in Barcelona, Spain, and it just reconfirmed my direction. I know what I’m doing now.”
“Back in the 80’s I saw Watts Towers in L.A., California, by Sabato (Simon) Rodia… it was like, “One dude made these towers 99 feet high and there’s not a single weld in it. It’s pretty incredible. Anyway, I took some of those ideas and incorporated them here, I just wanted to trick my house out and make it a little funky.” Hartbauer continues, “There’s not much going on in regards the arts in this neighborhood and we figured we can do something here, where people that don’t normally see art might be like ‘wow look at that funky place’. That’s pretty cool.”
Some items that adorn the house might be found at thrift stores, such as porcelain, glass and clay dishes. Hartbauer has also been working at a clay school where he admits, “It’s fabulous. I have so much fun and it’s so much fun to do.” He also lets some metal pieces that he has found to rust out and weather to its natural patinas. His passion and enthusiasm for this project can be heard in his voice and can certainly be seen around his home.
The Hart Haus is not meant to be a side show attraction. What it is is both grounding and up-lifting. Still a work in progress, it focuses on the four elements of life; water, fire, earth and air. Within each element as we walked around the house, there is a representation of the sun which brings a sense of life force and with it, growth. With each breath these elements breathes in time with us, we become one with our surroundings and the universe.
Let’s examine each element and what that means:
Water: Open Hearted
Earth: Grounded – Centered
Air: Mentally Clear
Each element is presented in a thoughtful, elegant and enchanting way.
There are 31 doors that function as a fence to the north side of the yard, no meaning to the number of doors. Hartbauer laughs, “That’s just what worked.” He adds, “this fence is one of the first things I created when we moved into the house.” It is a sturdy structure that has been fitted with rebar and concrete. Each door represents a different theme. “I’ve got a really sad story for this guy right here” pointing at a clay tile that he made with a dog face and the name Willa on it. “He is supposed to represent all the dogs that they have to be put down in shelters.” Hartbauer donates some of his free time to Dumb Friends League giving special attention to those dogs that speak volumes even though their hearts and souls may have been damaged. “There was a dog named Willa and I just fell in love with this dog. He was really, really fearful. I was the only one that this dog had any kind of relationship with. He would see me and would be like ‘wow, taking me outside, wow’, but anyone else he would just shutdown, hide in back of the kennel, that kind of stuff. The DFL thought he was so fearful that he wasn’t going to be able to make any kind of adjustment to an ordinary life, so they gave him the blue juice and I was pretty heartbroken for a while. I created this Dia de los Muertos section as a representation of all the dogs that get put down. Shelters, it’s a tough life.”
So, while life circulates around us with an ever-powerful pulse, it’s a good idea to pause, breathe and take in the moments that surround us. Look around, you just might see something excitingly new. Also, please keep in mind that this is someone’s personal residence, and you are not free to walk around uninvited. You may still enjoy the view from the street or sidewalk, for anything further, permission is needed. Please be respectful. The Hart Haus is located in Denver, Colorado, Syracuse Street & Colfax Avenue. Artfully Yours!