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Friday, March 3, 2017

EC: The Unconventional Canvases of Keith Haring

I visited The Unconventional Canvases of Keith Haring this past weekend at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Blvd. 
The exhibition was set on display on the first floor, right next to the entrance and across from the museum's gift shop. They even had a projector set up with interviews, footage of him working on the actual pieces and information about his background and career to help museum-goers learn more about Haring. 
This was great to see, considering that the artist Haring himself, did everything he could to allow his art to be visible to as many people as possible. This is exemplified, as we all remember, by his brief but prolific and spontaneous career in New York in the 90s, painting on as many blank canvases in the city's subway system where literally millions of people's eyes wander every day and night. And these "unconventional canvases" on display at the museum capture the same sentiment: he wanted as many people to see the beauty and message of his art as possible on an accessible level for all peoples.
Looking closely at the work he finished on the cars, there are visible paint drips that Haring seemingly was unbothered by, and even such quick and brief paint strokes that allowed for the car's original paint to shine through Haring's work. But this, like his work in the NYC subways, was condoned because Haring wanted to get as much done as possible; more art pieces to display equals more chances for his work to be seen. He also made sure to cover every and all parts of the car, from the bottom of the bumpers to the small borders of the windows, so that no matter who is standing where, everyone has a vantage point to be able to appreciate his work.
And just because he completed his work quickly and not as meticulously as say a perfectionist, is not to say his work was sub-par. In fact, this made his work even better as his art was consistent and often used the same sort of simple imagery. This may be because of his previous training in semiotics, the study of symbols, at the School of Visual Art in NYC. Many of his pieces have recurring symbols of love and friendship.
And the portrayal of an artist and their word does not end at the installation of their work, especially if it is a special exhibit like this one. Back in the museum's shop, there was a shelf of Keith Harding brand goods for sale, most of which were education resources for children, including a documentary dvd, color and number learning flash cards, a guiding activity and coloring book and even a little baby's book showcasing Haring's work and its symbolism such as a heart so signify the importance of love. This made my heart feel warm, as I am sure Harding would have loved to see his art influence the general population in such a good way.

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