Searching for Keith Haring in 2013 New York City

Browsing the stacks at Rodney’s in Cambridge a few weeks ago, and stumbled upon Keith Haring, The Authorized Biography by John Gruen. It’s a an oral history with great photos and reproductions of Keith’s work, and it made me love Haring even more than I already did.

Keith Haring biography

Inspired by the book and the voices within it, I hopped a train to NYC this past weekend and went looking for some of Keith’s remaining work around the city.

The Keith Haring Foundation: 676 Broadway

The site of Haring’s former studio (pretty sure the book cover photo was taken here) now houses The Keith Haring Foundation. The building was closed when I stopped by, but it was thrilling to see the painted walls from the stoop.

Keith Haring foundation new york city

The Keith Haring Bathroom: 208 West 13th Street

NYC is the City of 8 Million Stories, this is the Bathroom of 8 Million Dicks. Located on the 2nd-floor of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Keith painted this bathroom in 1989, just nine months before he passed from AIDS.

Keith Haring bathroom

I asked the woman at the front desk about this room, and she said  “let’s go,” and started up to the 2nd-floor. She unlocked the door and said “hang out as long as you like,” and boom she was gone, and I was alone in this small and quiet room. Just me and Keith and all these characters.

Keith Haring bathroom mural

Keith Haring AIDs painting NYC

Keith Haring bathroom

The New York Times called it “a joyful mural, born in a time of shame and fear.”

Keith Haring graffiti penis

Keith Haring bathroom sign

Carmine Street Pool: Clarkson Street & 7th Avenue

Even though it was sweltering on the Saturday I swung by, this Greenwich Village pool was closed, and the only life going on was in the giant mural. Painted by Keith in 1987.

Keith Haring pool mural new york city

‘Crack Is Wack’ Mural: East Harlem Drive at 128th Street

Caught my first glimpse of this handball court from a couple blocks away, and instantly got goosebumps. Originally painted in 1986, this 2-sided gem was restored in 2007.

Keith Haring Crack is Wack graffiti

Keith Haring Crack is Wack mural

Keith Haring Crack is Wack snake

From the book:

“When I discovered this wall, it was a handball court that was more or less abandoned and which didn’t have a fence around it. And because the wall looks like a big billboard on the highway, it’s perfect for a painting. As usual, I didn’t ask permission, and I just brought my ladders and paints and, within a day, I had painted this mural, Crack Is Wack.” – Keith Haring

Keith Haring Crack is Wack graffiti

Keith was fined $25 in 1986 for the illegal graffiti. Today, the mural is classified as a public monument, and the park is officially known as Crack Is Wack Playground by the NY Parks Department.

Keith Haring Crack is Wack

Keith Haring is very much alive in NYC, and everywhere else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *