Keith and us

Because I was a close friend of Keith Haring and because we shared a conceptual collaboration, I am asked for my opinion on the current public dialog regarding his work and its proposed and scheduled display in this area.As for Keith’s feelings about the town of his birth and his home town of Kutztown, he told me on more than one occasion that he hated Kutztown and Berks County because they are homophobic, small-minded, and backwards. He left because he couldn’t stand it here.As for my opinion about publically funded art, in general, I’m not in favor of public funding for the arts.The world of art is and has always been an elitist venture. Even though many artists endeavor to create popular and populist art during their lifetimes, their art ends up primarily in the possession of and under the control of the economic and cultural elite. The fact that the elites of our society simply have an interest in forcing their idea of culture and value on the rest of the citizenry does not provide me a convincing reason to support the public funding of works of art. It is objectionable for institutions of government and official culture to subvert the real revolutionary and politically antagonistic politics of many artists by promoting them as if the artists were not most often interested in thumbing their noses at government and public institutions. In general, Keith was well aware of the ways in which his work would be misinterpreted and compromised via its assimilation into a culture he rejected.He was not a radiant baby (a term invented by an art critic) he was a complex adult who endured a great deal of pain and suffering – especially in his hometown.At every turn he opposed the society and culture into which he was born. He worked hard to create his own alternatives but alas, the strength of his vision has been diminished on a daily basis since the day he died – and most often it is his “supporters” who do the most harm to his legacy.

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