Keith Haring Mural Unveiled at the LGBT Community Center in New York City


The LGBT Community Center in New York City unveiled a partially restord mural by Keith Haring last night in celebration of the artist’s life and legacy. The mural reflects Haring’s playful, erotic side and highlights the pleasures of gay sex and sexuality before the scourge of AIDS. Titled “Once Upon a Time…” the mural is a one-of-a-kind work of art that The Center is proudly restoring and is on public view from March 7 through Saturday, March 31, 2012. The Haring mural will be available for public viewing during all hours of Center operations. It will resume its role as a meeting room in April.

Read all about the mural after the jump & watch a slide show of the opening night party.

To mark the 20th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the Center invited 50 artists to create new work in the Center. Curated by Barbara Sahlman and the late Rick Barnett, The Center Show featured well established and emerging artists, each of whom chose the site and subject for the pieces they created. These artists included, among others: Leon Golub; Barbara Sandler; Kenny Scharf; Nancy Spero; Robert Storr; Richard Taddei; George Whitman; Martin Wong. Much of their work remains on display throughout the Center.

Keith Haring painted a mural entitled “Once Upon a Time” in the second floor men’s room. Since The Center Show opened on June 1, 1989, the “Haring Bathroom” has become an internationally known tourist destination. Completed months before he died of AIDS, this mural is perhaps Haring’s most personal and resonant expression of sexual jouissance, and is the only Haring mural of its kind.

As part of the Center’s major renovation of 1998-2001, new, code-compliant bathrooms were created, and the old bathrooms were re-purposed as meeting rooms. But the Haring Bathroom needed a different approach. The partitions and toilets were removed but the tile walls and all the old pipes and ducts were left where they were when Keith originally painted on or around them.

Between 1989 and 2011, through normal use, not to mention the major renovation project, the mural acquired a layer of grime and some of the underlying paint started to peel away from the plaster. The plaster and paint on which Keith painted were not in the best shape to begin with and you can see areas where he painted over pre-existing cracks. It was time to bring in a professional conservator to clean and stabilize the mural. Mark Fletcher and Tobias Meyer offered to underwrite that work and put the Center in touch with Rustin Levenson Art Conservation Associates. In October 2011, Harriet Irgang Alden and her colleagues spent three weeks cleaning the entire mural, one square inch at a time, applying stabilizing material where wall paint was separating from plaster and carefully in-filling some of the lines.

We are proud that the Center can be the protector and preserver of this part of Keith Haring’s legacy and we are committed to continue to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and to support those who have it through our programs and services.

To support the Center’s art and services, stop by the front desk or visit gaycenter.org/support.

Keith Haring artwork © Keith Haring Foundation / Photo: The LGBT Community Center National History Archive

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