“He must have gone with a pretty wild crowd.”

Visit Two Writing Teachers
for the rest of today’s slices.

(Heads up: some of the photos in this post might not be suiteable for all audiences … I don’t imagine anyone reads my blog with their kids. I’m acutally thinking some adult readers might be troubled or angered by some of the photos.  Just because I love them, doesn’t mean you will …)

Tonight the Brooklyn Museum of Art had pre-opening event for members and their friends, a chance to see the new Keith Haring exhibit, drink a little wine, listen (and even dance) to 80s music and eat some oddly spicy bread sticks.  I went with Grace, my friend for many years who I haven’t seen in almost a year.

Tonight I fell in love with Keith Haring.  I liked him before, liked him quite a lot.  But seeing the show changed something.  All that work in one place, the videos, the collages, the photos, the flyers for Club 57 … it really surrounds you in the best of all possible ways, makes you smile, makes you think, makes you wish the show was two or three times as big as it is.  I liked seeing work that should have been ephemeral (chalk drawings, provocatively-arranged newspaper headlines, polaroids). 

My post title was spoken by an older man as I walked past him about midway through the exhibit.  He was looking at a series of photos of Haring out on the town, partying and hanging out at places like danceteria.  I thought it was such a dear thing to say (and yes, I have to say “dear,” because how else to describe that?).  And, too, you’ve got to figure that any guy who got to paint Grace Jones’ naked body probably did run with a wild crowd!


Haring and I lived in the city at the same time.  Not for long.  I moved in only a few years before his death, though I’d spent plenty of time in New York before that.  I remember seeing his work on street lamps and mailboxes and in the subway.  But our worlds were so very far apart.  I had my crazy nights and even crazier friends, lived on Ludlow Street long before it was “Ludlow Street,” but I didn’t run with anything even vaguely resembling a wild crowd.  I liked his work but he was — dare I say it? — “just” Keith Haring, he was part of my landscape.  If you’d asked me then if I thought he’d have this big show at BMA in 2012, I’d have asked if we were talking about the same Keith Haring.  I knew he was famous, but I didn’t think about it, didn’t think about him beyond, “Oh, there’s that cute one I like,” “Oh, there’s that weird one I don’t really understand.”  If I could zap myself back to my early 20s for a week or two, I would make a point of looking deeper.

So glad I got to see this tonight.  I will surely go back before the show comes down in July … maybe more than once.  After our tour, Grace and I went downstairs and sipped wine, ate those funky bread sticks, watched folks dance, sat in a quiet-ish corner to catch up a little, then I went home with a smile on my face.  Excellent Thursday night: accomplished!

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(Hmmm … ²)

¹ And can I just say: Grace Jones … hot damn!  Does she look amazing or what?
² I cannot for the life of me figure out how to keep the Keith/Grace photo from showing in here.  Just pretend you’re not seeing it there, okay?


12 thoughts on ““He must have gone with a pretty wild crowd.”

  1. Wow…reading your post as like time traveling back to New York City when I first started working and lived in Brooklyn. I loved the high spiritedness of Haring – but I did not take him seriously then, he was all over the place and I (like you) never expected the place he has assumed in the art world. What a fun evening it sounds like, though – thanks for all the great photos so we could experience it vicariously.


  2. Paul

    Very nice to have a night out at the BMA from here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where the snow is melting slowly and I’m sure many things are going on this Thursday night, but nothing like this. Having been in NYC for the first time this past July, I’m more connected to this post than I might otherwise be; I have mental movies and memory pictures to create more of an interface. Ah, the intersection of contexts, writer’s and reader’s!

    A pleasurable read, as always. I love my home, but am a bit jealous; it would be cool to have such things to do in your own backyard. 🙂


    1. Glad I could share a little Brooklyn with you in Edmonton, Paul. And the jealousy goes both ways: I wish we had some of your snow. I’ve really missed winter this year. And, too, when I think of Alberta, I think of open, beautiful landscapes, and I would certainly love to look out my window at one of those from time to time!


  3. I find it interesting that his street art is raised to museum status. Celebrating the rebel.
    To live deeply in the moment. Another slice that tells a story. Clearly with feeling.

    I met him briefly in Tokyo. My girlfriend was head of Marketing for Swatch in the 80’s. He designed a promotional watch for them.
    Now that is one watch I wish I still had. It is listed on ebay for $5,000


    1. The street-to-museum move is interesting to me, too. Seeing things that should have been fleeting made permanent. Seeing his chalk drawings from the subway mounted and under glass was both wonderful and weird.

      I’ve made it a habit not to search ebay for things I used to own, too discouraging to see what they’re worth today! But I’ll bet that was a fun Swatch to have while it lasted.


  4. jee young

    It sounds like it was a fun night in Brookyln. It makes me miss NYC and all the amazing museums and events that happne. Thanks for sharing all the photos. Btw, how do you add the slide show to your blog??


    1. Happy to give you a good memory of NYC, Jee. I’ll email you my slideshow steps. I don’t think I’m doing it exactly right. I seem to have forgotten how to do it, but what I’m doing now works, so I won’t complain!


  5. Once, I took my daughter over for a play-date at the house of some people I didn’t like very much and I found an original Keith Haring on their kid’s play-room wall and I almost swooned. Wow!!! I almost liked them better for that.
    Look at that woman’s abs. Wow.


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