• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Street Credo of Keith Haring

On May 4th Google honored (or is it ripped off?) Keith Haring with a doodle, even though the internet colossus passed on having a May Day doodle — a touch ironic considering who Keith Haring was.

I distinctly remember seeing my first Keith Haring. I was a teen. It was at some subway station, maybe Lexington Ave, maybe 7th Ave, as I transfered from a one subway train to another — taking the grinding ride as I did everyday when I was in high school from Queens to the Bronx.

Seeing it was like pure music.

It’s like that scene in the Shawshank Redemption when he plays a those two beautiful female voices that grace the dreary all-male prison.

I have no memory of what that Haring image was. And it’s besides the point. The sheer genius of what he did: When an ad on the subway would “expire” — that is when the time the advertizer paid for had ended, and if they didn’t have another ad paid and ready to run — the subway workers would put up a black image.

And that gave Haring his blank canvas, where light would sprout in the glum surroundings of the NYC subway, there would be light in the darkest black. Where creativity would manifest itself when it seemed it was starved of a place to take root.

Several years later, in college in Pittsburg, I passed an art gallery and it had a Keith Haring print in the window. I breathlessly bolted into the gallery: “You have something by that guy from the NYC subway!” Saleswomen: “Yes, that’s Keith Haring, he got his start on the subway.” I had no idea he’d “made it” — I just loved his work.

Haring writes in his wonderful essay “Art in Transit” about how he realized he wanted to reach the general public and not the artistic or glittery in crowd: “I remember most clearly an afternoon of drawing in a studio that large doors that opened onto Twenty-second Street. All kinds of people would stop and look at the huge drawing and many were eager to comment on their feelings toward it. This was the first time I realized how many people could enjoy art if they were given the chance. These were not the people I saw in the museums or in the galleries but a cross section of humanity that cut across all boundaries. This group of different people living and working together in harmony has always been my prime attraction to New York.”

There was a great gustiness and spontaneity to Haring. He’d say “I’ve come to the realization that I can draw anything I want to — never believing in mistakes.”

Photo of Haring drawing muscle tank-man burning money with homeless man in background by Tseng Kwong Chi; from “Keith Haring: Future Primeval.”

And it was in the vein that he started drawing on the subway: “In 1980, I returned to drawing with a new commitment to purpose and reality. If I was going to draw, there had to be a reason. That reason, I decided, was for people. The only way art lives is through the experience of the observer. The reality of art begins in the eyes of the beholder and gains power through imagination, invention, and confrontation.

“Doing things in public was not a new idea. The climate of art in New York at that time was certainly moving in that direction. It seemed obvious to me when I saw the first empty subway panel that this was the perfect situation … and immediately [went] above ground and [bought] chalk. After the first drawing, things just fell into place. I began drawing in the subways as a hobby on my way to work.”

Arrested several times for his “illegal” subway drawings, Haring was in a sense an early “adbuster”: “The drawings are designed to provoke people to think and use their own imagination. They don’t have exact definitions but challenge the viewer to assert his or her own ideas and interpretation. Sometimes, people find this uncomfortable, especially because the drawings are in a space usually reserved for advertisements which tell you exactly what to think. Sometimes the advertisements on the side of the empty panels provide inspiration for the drawings and often create ironic associations.”

Said Haring: “I don’t think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination, and encourages people to go furhter, It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it.”

Sam Husseini’s blog is at http://husseini.posterous.com — see his own art project at http://compassroses.org 

More articles by:

Sam Husseini is founder of the website VotePact.org

May 26, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump Administration and the Washington Post: Picking Fights Together
John Kendall Hawkins
The Gods of Small Things
Patrick Cockburn
Governments are Using COVID-19 Crisis to Crush Free Speech
George Wuerthner
Greatest Good is to Preserve Forest Carbon
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Covid-19 Conspiracies of German Neo-Nazis
John G. Russell
TRUMP-20: The Other Pandemic
John Feffer
Trump’s “Uncreative Destruction” of the US/China Relationship
John Laforge
First US Citizen Convicted for Protests at Nuclear Weapons Base in Germany
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump, Resign Now for America’s Sake: This is No Time for a Dangerous, Law-breaking, Bungling, Ignorant Ship Captain
James Fortin – Jeff Mackler
Killer Capitalism’s COVID-19 Back-to-Work Imperative
Henry Giroux
Criminogenic Politics as a Form of Psychosis in the Age of Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Patterns of Compromise: The EasyJet Data Breach
Howard Lisnoff
If a Covid-19 Vaccine is Discovered, It Will be a Boon to Military Recruiters
David Mattson
Grizzly Bears are Dying and That’s a Fact
Thomas Knapp
The Banality of Evil, COVID-19 Edition
May 25, 2020
Marshall Auerback
If the Federal Government Won’t Fund the States’ Emergency Needs, There is Another Solution
Michael Uhl
A Memory Fragment of the Vietnam War
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
Make a Resilient, Localized Food System Part of the Next Stimulus
Barrie Gilbert
The Mismanagement of Wildlife in Utah Continues to be Irrational and a National Embarrassment.
Dean Baker
The Sure Way to End Concerns About China’s “Theft” of a Vaccine: Make it Open
Thom Hartmann
The Next Death Wave from Coronavirus Will Be the Poor, Rural and White
Phil Knight
Killer Impact
Paul Cantor
Memorial Day 2020 and the Coronavirus
Laura Flanders
A Memorial Day For Lies?
Gary Macfarlane – Mike Garrity
Grizzlies, Lynx, Bull Trout and Elk on the Chopping Block for Trump’s Idaho Clearcuts
Cesar Chelala
Challenges of the Evolving Coronavirus Pandemic
Luciana Tellez-Chavez
This Year’s Forest Fire Season Could Be Even Deadlier
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Beijing Acts on Hong Kong
George Wuerthner
Saving the Lionhead Wilderness
Elliot Sperber
Holy Beaver
Weekend Edition
May 22, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Hugh Iglarsh
Aiming Missiles at Viruses: a Plea for Sanity in a Time of Plague
Paul Street
How Obama Could Find Some Redemption
Marc Levy
On Meeting Bao Ninh: “These Good Men Meant as Much to Me as Yours Did to You”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Shallò: 120 Days of COVID
Joan Roelofs
Greening the Old New Deal
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Still Matters
Charles Pierson
Is the US-Saudi Alliance Headed Off a Cliff?
Robert Hunziker
10C Above Baseline
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
The Fed’s Chair and Vice Chair Got Rich at Carlyle Group, a Private Equity Fund With a String of Bankruptcies and Job Losses
Eve Ottenberg
Factory Farming on Hold
Andrew Levine
If Nancy Pelosi Is So Great, How Come Donald Trump Still Isn’t Dead in the Water?
Ishmael Reed
Alex Azar Knows About Diabetes
Joseph Natoli
Will Things Fall Apart Now or in November?
Richard D. Wolff
An Old Story Again: Capitalism vs. Health and Safety
Louis Proyect
What Stanford University and Fox News Have in Common
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail