Tony Dapolito Recreation Center
This mural was painted in August 1987 by famed graffiti artist Keith Haring (1958–1990) on the wall that adjoins the Carmine Street Pool at the James J. Walker Park handball court. Measuring 18 feet high by 170 feet long and taking its cue from the hues of the pool’s underwater surface, the mural depicts bold, stylized motifs of fish and children as well as abstract shapes in black, white, yellow and blue.
Keith Haring was born on May 4, 1958 in Reading and grew up in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. His first one-man exhibition was at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in 1978. He moved to New York City that year to study at the School of Visual Arts. In the early 1980s, the young artist first attained notoriety by using the methods of graffiti to literally make his mark on the city. Creating a style that would soon become renowned worldwide, Haring “tagged” chalk outlines of buoyant, interlocking bodies on the black poster mounts of New York City subway stations. His vocabulary of images, such as the radiant child and barking dog, soon became instantly recognizable.
Haring went on to have numerous exhibitions of his work and was represented by such well-known dealers as Tony Shafrazi, Andre Emmerich, and Leo Castelli. He was prolific in his artwork, generous in support of social causes, and went on to help choreograph music videos and produce coloring books and t-shirts for children. He opened his Pop Shop in 1986, with the proceeds helping to finance his charitable causes, such as Learning through Art and Doing Art Together, two programs that brought art to schools. He provided funds for numerous children’s organizations, supported efforts to oppose apartheid, and donated designs and funds to advance the cause of AIDS research.
In 1986, Haring painted the unauthorized but much appreciated Crack is Wack mural at a playground located at the F.D.R. Drive and East 128th Street. In the same year, two of his sculptures, one untitled and the other dubbed Blue Curling Dog, were displayed temporarily at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in Manhattan. The sculptures were also displayed in Riverside Park in 1988.
Keith Haring died of AIDS on February 16, 1990. Not yet 32 years old, he left a legacy of art that was both popular and critically acclaimed. A foundation in his memory was established which continues to support the organizations he championed during his lifetime. In 1991-92, Haring’s Balancing the Dog was displayed in Dante Park and in 1997 the Public Art Fund, in collaboration with the Estate of Keith Haring, organized a multi-site installation of his outdoor sculptures at Central Park’s Doris Freedman Plaza and along the Park Avenue Malls. This public exhibition occurred simultaneously with a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
In the spring of 1995, the Keith Haring Foundation assisted in the preservation of the Carmine Street Mural so it could continue to enliven the experience of patrons to this 1930s outdoor pool.
Carmine Street Pool Mural Details
- Description: Mural on rear of concrete handball wall, facing outdoor pool
- Materials: Paint
- Dimensions: H: 18' W: 170'
- Cast: August 1987
- Dedicated: August 1987
- Fabricator: Keith Haring (artist)
- Donor: Keith Haring