These Large Keith Haring Murals Are Coming to the Dallas Art Fair

Categories: Visual Art

I remember a few years ago my car ran out of gas on I-35. I hopped down the bridge and started walking, in the dead of night, on Colorado toward Beckley. I'd left Oak Cliff a few years before, but the corner boys and gang bangers were right where I left them. But, the two gorgeous queens walking out of the Hillcrest House were a reminder that the neighborhood was becoming more diverse, more beautiful.

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As I approached Hillcrest House I saw a mural unlike any I had come upon in my old hood. Multi-colored, blank-faced characters bounced up, down and around the wall, creating a rhythmic and electric mural. I pulled out my phone and Googled the building, and on the spot I learned about the building's history as a safe haven for people suffering from HIV and AIDS.

I also researched the artist, who had signed the mural "Sowiecki." Real name: Michael Sowiecki, an artist who completed the mural in 2007. I was a bit perplexed. The style and images seemed familiar to me, as well as the AIDS advocacy connection, but the name didn't match.

It didn't take long to find that Mr. Sowiecki was influenced by the late, great Keith Haring, the New York artist and activist whose visual meditations on death, AIDs and politics existed in the trenches of his era's civil warfare: the subway stations, alleys and streets of NYC.

Dallasites will get a chance to see Haring's work in person at the 5th Annual Dallas Art Fair. The pieces on display, "Untitled (FDR NY) #3 and #4" and "Untitled (FDR NY) #25 and #26," were created in May 1984 as part of a mural and performance along FDR Drive at Asphalt Green Park in New York City. Beth Shapiro, spokeswoman for The Dallas Art Fair, says the mural initially functioned as a fence, but it was dismantled and removed due to construction in 1985.

Viewing Haring's pieces should serve as a great starting place to appreciate not only his work, but to plan a day trip out of the gallery and into Dallas' neighborhoods, where hidden treasures like Sowiecki's mural remain, continuing Haring's mission of mixing art, activism and awareness about the social issues affecting our neighbors and neighborhoods.

The murals will be on display at the Patron Lounge, 1807 Ross Avenue, where they will be unveiled between 4:30 and 5 p.m. on Friday. More info here.

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Gangs are not exclusive to Oak Cliff. It is, however, THE nasty slur most commonly used. Why don't people talk about the Sunset High School success story?  Unfortunately your message got lost in your poor choice of words. 

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