There are concerns a little-known mural by Keith Haring, in New York’s Upper Manhattan, is at risk of being destroyed.
Grace House – a former a convent, now rent-stabilized apartments for artists and students – is evicting its tenants from their low rent apartments (though two tenants are taking legal action in order to resist the eviction) due to its own “financial difficulties”, which means they have had to explore other options. Real estate developers have been going to scout the property for potential redevelopment; leading many to worry Haring’s work will be subject to gentrification.
Grace House, now church owned (by the Church of Ascension), houses a work Haring painted in 1983 or 1984 when the building was still a convent, and a Catholic youth organization that two of Haring’s friends were working for was leasing the former convent building. Haring created the mural in one night, with around 50 people watching him.
Keith Haring Foundation director Julia Gruen told the New York Times in 2007, “It is quite remarkable that this mural has not been generally acknowledged.”
The mural, by New York’s most iconic street artist, contains some of his most notorious motifs, such as: the ‘radiant baby’, and dancing figures. Gruen praised the mural highly in the Times article, saying, “In terms of the imagery, it’s like a lexicon of his vocabulary.”
One of Haring’s last paintings before his death, The Last Rainforest, was recently put up for sale by photographer and friend, David LaChapelle.