Tag Archives: Keith Haring

Happy Birthday, Keith Haring

4 May

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: “where did the week go?!” Then, in about 26 days, I’ll be saying, “Where did the month go?”

And if I keep that train of thought going until it gets to the last station, I’ll be blogging about being on my death bed, so we’re just gonna nip this in the bud before things get out of hand.

I was very happy to see that today’s Google doodle celebrates artist Keith Haring. Today would have been his 54th birthday.

I’ve always loved Keith Haring’s work. It just makes me smile. Keith Haring strikes me as a man driven first and foremost by his desire to draw. Haring once said, “My contribution to the world is my ability to draw. I will draw as much as I can for as many people as I can.”

Keith Haring came to fame in the 1980’s with chalk drawings in the subways of New York. His works were deceptively simple images depicting babies, dogs, love, war and death.

Having started as a graffiti artist, Haring wanted to make his art accessible to everyone. Toward this end, he opened The Pop Shop in New York and Tokyo. Haring’s images were available on cards, clothing, coloring books and buttons.

I was fortunate enough to visit the Pop Shop in Tribeca in 2003. One of my oldest friends and I both happened to be in New York on business at the same time. My friend and I  had a great day together and our visit to the Pop Shop was one of the highlights. The shops have now closed as retail establishments, but the merchandise can still be ordered online. (www.pop-shop.com.)

Keith Haring was also an activist. He was openly gay and an advocate for safe sex. Keith was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. In 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funding and art to AIDS organizations and to expand the audience for Keith’s work though exhibits and licensing of his images.

“In June 1989, on the rear wall of the convent of the Church of Sant’Antonio (in Italian: Chiesa di Sant’Antonio abate) in Pisa (Italy), he painted the last public work of his life, the mural “Tuttomondo” (translate: “all-world”), along with 6 animated inserts for Sesame Street (which later aired a year after his death)…” -Wikepedia

Keith Haring and I were both born in 1958. Sadly, like too many gay men of my generation, Keith Haring died of AIDS-related complications in 1990.

If you don’t know Keith Haring’s work, I urge you to Google him. If you are fortunate enough to be in the New York area between now and July 8, you can visit the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition of Keith Haring’s early work.

Yesterday morning I wrote about transcendent moments. This morning I found a quote from Keith Haring that speaks to the act of creation as being one of those moments. Keith doesn’t use the term “transcendent moment” but he certainly describes it:

“When it is working, you completely go into another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That’s what it’s all about.”

Happy Keith Haring’s birthday and Happy Friday.

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