You’ve likely seen him marching purposefully downtown in bare feet until the first snowfall, with thick glasses and long hair, bearded and braided, in a big army overcoat brightly embellished with red fabric swatches. Hartley Stephenson is his own man, a proud man, opinionated, and wildly creative, a free spirit if there ever was one.
I was privileged to visit his studio at the Mount, where he has been working for the last four years. The walls and surfaces are covered with his art—melted vinyl records, cast-off metal and cement made into sculptures. The floor is a festive patchwork of vintage linoleum, and a large beater used in paper making sits to one side. Much of his work is a wry commentary on political and social absurdity.