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(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!
(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?