Today I took her, not to Chico's Kiss mural, but to the Brooklyn Museum to see the work of another New York/East Village-based street artist, Keith Haring. The Brooklyn Museum is hosting a show of work he made between 1978 and 1982, from when he was 20 to 24, just a wee lad, but already genius. I was in high school during these years.
Keith Haring died of AIDS in 1990 at the age of 31. I remember the moment I found out. I was in a divey restaurant near the University of Utah where I was attending graduate school. An undergraduate poet broke the news, and I burst into tears.
So I've been mourning the loss of Haring for 22 years.
Today, I wondered how Haring's life and/or career would have been different if he'd grown up--not in Pennsylvania and close to NYC--but where I did: within a low-desert located bubble in Arizona. Would he have gone to the NYC's School of Visual Arts after high school? Would that have seemed within reach for him? Would it have seemed as far away in every sense as it did for me? Just as imaginary? Or would Haring have found his language and vision if he'd been in Tempe in the art department at Arizona State? Would he have made graffiti art up and down Mill Avenue--an alternate, parallel version of his subway chalk art? What about if he'd been in Provo, attended BYU like I did?
Anyway, just some things I was thinking about as we made out way through the exhibit. It was fantastic, heartening and inspiring. Haring's work was the opposite of tightness, it was about freedom, love, imagination, exuberance and joy, and I felt happy to be experiencing that with my unscheduled kid.