via Visual AIDS >blog (1/26/06):
Haring art exhibition will not be censored
Visitors to the Reading Public Museum show may find some of the works by the artist from Berks County controversial, the museum's director says. By Mary E. Young
An upcoming exhibit of the late Keith Haring's artwork in the Reading Public Museum will not be censored and will include some pieces that visitors could find offensive, the museum's chief executive said Wednesday.
Those pieces will be in a separate room along with other less controversial works, and a sign will warn people about the exhibit, Ronald C. Roth said.
"We don't have a lot of work that people might find troubling, but we have some pieces they might find controversial," he said. "It's not being censored. We want to be sensitive to the public. They can make their own decisions."
Roth said Berks County Commissioner Mark C. Scott is trying to characterize Haring's work as obscene, even though Haring, a Berks native, is recognized worldwide as one of the greatest artists of his time.
On Tuesday, Scott prevented Haring's Statue of Liberty mural from being hung on the side of the county services center to draw attention to the exhibit that opens Feb. 18.
Scott said the statue's thumb looks like male genitalia.
"Imagine what would have happened if we had hung the mural and some enterprising person researching Haring on the Internet would have come across all of his works replete with their depictions of forced deviant intercourse and sexual degradation of religious symbols," he said. "I did my homework. I anticipated the public's concern, and I acted on it.
"I'm not saying Keith Haring's work should be banished, but I don't believe it's appropriate for a public venue."
Scott, who said he received dozens of calls from supporters Wednesday, said he didn't mean to set off a communitywide debate on censorship.
"I'm a pretty tolerant guy," he said.
The county has an interest beyond the mural because it pays for the museum's security, he said.
County records show the payments totaled $144,686 in 2005.
Meanwhile, Haring's works are arriving from private collections and museums all over the country.
The exhibit is appropriate because Haring was born in Reading, raised in Kutztown and still has family in Berks, Roth said.
"He was a superstar of the 1980s," Roth said. "I was really struck by how many people in Berks County revered Keith Haring and what he had done.
"I thought it would be good to do a show."
Contact reporter Mary E. Young at 610-478-6292 or [email protected]
Keith Haring exhibit spurs some objections
A few Reading School Board members oppose certain works in the upcoming art display at the museum, which the district owns. By Amy Anuszewski Reading Eagle correspondent
Commissioner blasts Keith Haring’s art
Mark C. Scott says the late Berks native’'s work, known around the world and scheduled for a show in the Reading Public Museum, is obscene. Some experts disagree.
©2006 Reading Eagle Company By Mary E. Young Reading Eagle
via ARTology with Tullio DeSantis:
January 26, 2006
Keith and us
As for Keith's feelings about the town of his birth and his home town of Kutztown, he told me on more than one occasion that he hated Kutztown and Berks County because they are homophobic, small-minded, and backwards. He left because he couldn't stand it here.
As for my opinion about publically funded art, In general, I'm not in favor of public funding for the arts.
The world of art is and has always been an elitist venture. Even though many artists endeavor to create popular and populist art during their lifetimes, their art ends up primarily in the possession of and under the control of the economic and cultural elite. [...]
In general, Keith was well aware of the ways in which his work would be misinterpreted and compromised via its assimilation into a culture he rejected.
He was not a radiant baby (a term invented by an art critic) he was a complex adult who endured a great deal of pain and suffering - especially in his hometown.
At every turn he opposed the society and culture into which he was born. He worked hard to create his own alternatives but alas, the strength of his vision has been diminished on a daily basis since the day he died - and most often it is his "supporters" who do the most harm to his legacy.