Keith Haring once helped define the colorful art scene of ’80s New York. First, Haring’s white-chalk linear drawings turned up along New York’s subway system and, soon after, his Pop Shop, featuring his images and T-shirts, turned Haring into an international art star.
Haring Miami, an extensive retrospective of 200 original works by the artist who died in 1990 at the age of 31, opens Wednesday at the Design District’s Moore Building.
Miami artist Stephen Gamson , whose distinctive silhouette images were inspired by Haring, was one of Haring’s earliest supporters. He remembers his friend as “soft spoken,” “good natured” and a trailblazer who was on the forefront of bringing awareness to the AIDS epidemic “at a time with a lot of unknowns.”
Most of all, Gamson, 47, is — and was — “a Keith Haring cheerleader,” he says.
“Whenever I traveled I’d go into galleries and say, ‘Have you heard of Keith Haring?’ ” If the gallery rep said they’d never heard of Haring — note, this was early on — Gamson would instruct the rep to mark both of their names in a book. “When you know who this guy is, give me a call,” Gamson would say.
Soon, his phone was ringing.
“I planted these seeds,” Gamson says. “I felt like a pioneer in discovering his work, it was so profound. He became my favorite artist, and I started collecting everything.”
Gamson has one of Haring’s quick marker drawings on loan for the Miami exhibit.
“I knew the first time I saw his art it reached into my soul, some sort of language that I identified with and could understand. I thought it was genius. I’d never seen anything like it before.”
Haring Miami opens at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at The Moore Building, 4040 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets: $25-$30, VIP tickets $225-$275. Information: 720-771-0600 or www.HaringMiami.com. Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.
— HOWARD COHEN