Pop artist Keith Haring to be featured in AIDS Garden


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Pop artist Keith Haring to be featured in AIDS Garden

By Jermaine Nolen

A new garden coming to Chicago next year will feature a sculpture by late LGBTQ activist and artist Keith Haring, commemorating and continuing  his work in AIDs  education.

AIDS Garden Chicago will provide a space for reflection and education on the AIDS Epidemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate HIV and AIDS. 

It will be located on the north side of the Chicago lakefront between the Belmont and Diversey harbors.  Development of the garden is scheduled to begin in early 2019 and be completed by fall 2019.

“[The sculpture is] great because it’s showing their support of [people] who have AIDS and HIV,” said Logan Square resident Blanca Parra. “[Keith Haring] was a huge advocate for street art and creative programs for kids. He was a positive image, so I think it’s great.”

According to the Keith Haring Foundation, Haring devoted much of his time to public works of art. He created more than 50 public pieces between 1982 and 1989, most of which carried social messages. 

Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, and in 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and programs for children. Before dying in 1990 at the age of 31, he dedicated his art to speaking about his own illness and to increase AIDS awareness.

“AIDS is still a [prevalent] disease, and I feel like a lot of people still don’t know much about it,” said second year journalism graduate student

Simone Malcolm. “There are still a bunch of myths about the disease, so the [AIDS Garden] will bring more attention to it.”

There is not much news coverage or education about HIV or AIDS today, but it remains an issue, Malcolm added.

The 30-foot sculpture, titled “Self Portrait,”  is being provided as a gift by the Keith Haring Foundation with support from the Rosenthal Fine Art, Inc., 640 N. LaSalle Drive. The sculpture will be surrounded by newly planted trees, plants and landscaping, all as a tribute to Chicago residents affected by AIDS. This will be one of many works by Haring on display in Chicago, including a mural he created with CPS students in 1989.

“I’ve been into pop art for a long time—I’m a big fan of Lichtenstein—so that’s how I learned about Keith Haring,” said Auburn Gresham resident

Isaac Glover. “His work reminds me of the ‘90s. It’s very colorful. It’s so smart and has so much energy to it.”

Glover said he has really enjoyed seeing Chicago’s recent dedication to displaying public art from well-known artists.

“You see a lot of that in New York and Melbourne in Australia, and I hope this becomes a bigger part [of Chicago],” Glover said. “It’s all over Pilsen. Street artists are becoming an integral part of that neighborhood, and you see it in other places around the city, too. I hope it continues to grow and more artists continue to have a greater effect on the city.”