Writing on the Wall: Is the Next Keith Haring Out There?

"Is there a party happening somewhere, tonight, where the new Haring and peers are dancing?"
March 23, 2012

During the very early 1980s, pop artist Keith Haring—creator of iconic works like Radiant Baby and even Heritage of Pride’s logo—took to the New York subway stations with a piece of chalk, where he covered blacked-out advertisement displays with art. A number of these rare works—some still glued to their original surfaces, others cautiously removed, slightly torn in the process and mounted—make up the Brooklyn Museum’s incredible "Keith Haring: 1978-1982" exhibition, which runs through July 8. 

Lost to AIDS in 1990, Haring was responsible for dozens of internationally known, publicly accessible works characterized by their exuberant, clean, cartoonish line work and shapes, including East Harlem’s Crack is Wack mural and recently refurbished Once Upon a Time unveiled at The LGBT Center earlier this month. 
 
As documented in a photo and video-filled section of the 1978-82 show, he was also part of a vibrant, queer, quintessentially New York scene. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Kenny Scharf, Madonna, John Sex, Klaus Nomi—the list of creative luminaries and trendsetters who regularly mixed and mingled goes on. 
 
Viewing his works at the museum begs a question: where the fuck is such a scene today? Is there a party happening somewhere, tonight, where the new Haring and peers are dancing? Where is the new Haring? At SVA? Williamsburg? At best, in subway stations today we still spot amusing defilements of advertisement posters—like Patrick Waldo’s ubiquitous moustaches or Poster Boy’s political mash-up advertisements. This city is still populated by incredibly creative people, and yes, spotting them here and there is relatively commonplace. But the scene like the one Haring inhabited is harder to find. Has it all moved to China, where the likes of Ai Weiwei crowd hip hotel lounges like Mesh at Beijing’s Opposite House?
 
Until the next Haring arrives, we’ll just have to make do with the original at Brooklyn Museum.