I stumbled across Keith Haring’s “Once Upon a Time” years ago while walking along 13th Street from the 13th Street Theater just off Sixth Avenue to Tenth Avenue, to catch a bus.
In 1990, just before he died, Haring painted this mural in a bathroom at what is now The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center.
Website Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York describes it well: “To walk into the Haring Bathroom is to enter a monochromatic funhouse of fucking. Anything goes. Above white toilet tiles, curling around water pipes and ductwork, headless male bodies twist and entwine with giant phalluses. Tiny men shoot from the ends of penises to splash soggily onto the backs of other bodies.”
One of the delights of living in New York in the 1970s was seeing Haring’s work on the subway trains, at the time the urban graffiti art form was being invented. His style is unmistakable and unforgettable. If you’re interested in 1970s New York — the underpinnings or foundation building of dirty art, hip-hop and Punk — you must watch the film Style Wars (1983).
This area is sort of the West Village and sort of Chelsea so a visit to either neighbourhood should include this brilliant artist’s near-last work.
Nearby at Greenwich Avenue and 7th Avenue is the Jenny Holzer New York AIDS Memorial.
Also it’s within easy walking distance is the infamous bar Stonewall.