February 1, 2018

Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural Exhibition

March 3 – September 23, at the Chicago Cultural Center

Celebrating the monumental mural created by Haring and Chicago Public School students in 1989

Mary May    mary.may@cityofchicago.org, 312.744.0576

Christine Carrino    christine.carrino@cityofchicago.org, 312.744.0573

Visit link for photos - Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural


Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) are pleased to present Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural on view March 3 through September 23 at the Chicago Cultural Center in the Sidney R. Yates Gallery, 4th Floor North as part of the City of Chicago’s Year of Creative Youth. The FREE admission exhibition will feature 36 original panels of the monumental mural created in 1989 by internationally-acclaimed artist Keith Haring with the assistance of 500 Chicago Public School students in Chicago's Grant Park. The mural is a reflection of Haring’s incisive draftsmanship and symbolic characters (e.g. radiant baby, barking dog). Presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools, the exhibition will also feature a collection of photographs, correspondence, designs, plans, t-shirt drawings and much more.

“Keith Haring and his iconic murals highlight not only the invaluable impact he has had on public art in Chicago, but on the importance of fostering talent with our future generations,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Our city is home to a sprawling art scene with many talented local artists, and I am proud that many of them follow in Keith Haring’s legacy by supporting the next generation of creative youth.”

“Chicago should be very proud to be part of Keith Haring’s legacy,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “It’s appropriate during Chicago’s Year of Creative Youth to remember this artist’s work with young people and to highlight the opportunity and inspiration that projects like this can provide to a generation. The students who once worked on this mural are now paying it forward as artists, teachers, and citizens committed to the creative landscape themselves.”

Over five days, May 15–19, 1989, which the City of Chicago declared “Keith Haring Week,” the renowned artist worked with approximately 500 Chicago Public School students from 63 area high schools to paint a monumental mural in his familiar energetic style. The 488-foot long mural, made up of 122 4x8-foot Masonite panels, stretched along the edge of Grant Park at Michigan Ave. between Randolph St. and Madison St. Without any sort of sketch or plan, Haring first painted his signature black outline drawings of figures and symbols. The students were then given five colors – red, orange, sky blue, light green and yellow – and minimal instructions to paint each section in a solid color and adjoining sections in different colors. Many students took creative license and included personal messages, from their own initials to support for their schools, to social messages.

The project was planned and managed with great dedication by Irving Zucker, a teacher at William H. Wells Community Academy, after meeting Haring at a dinner party in New York. The artist expressed interest in a project with kids in Chicago, and the planning began in 1987 for an innovative arts-in-education program to be developed by the Chicago Public Schools Bureau of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (MCA).

For a number of years, these 36 panels resided at Chicago’s Midway Airport.  Following the exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, the panels will be returned to the Chicago Public Schools for conservation and distribution to select schools. Other panels have already been placed at various schools and other locations throughout the city.

As one of the most significant artists of his generation, Keith Haring developed a love for drawing at a very early age. As an art student in New York City, Haring experimented with performance, video, installation and collage, but he found a highly effective medium on the unused advertising panels covered with matte black paper in subway stations. In the early 80s, commuters soon became familiar with his prolific chalk “subway drawings,” as he could create as many as forty in a day. Haring achieved international recognition and participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions, including an acclaimed one-man exhibition at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in 1982. During this period, he also participated in renowned survey exhibitions such as Documenta 7 in Kassel, the São Paulo Biennial and the Whitney Biennial.

Throughout his career, Haring devoted much of his time to public works, which often carried social messages. He produced more than 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989, including the Chicago mural. Other projects included: the now famous Crack is Wack mural along New York’s FDR Drive; a mural created for the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, on which Haring worked with 900 children, and a mural painted on the western side of the Berlin Wall three years before its fall.

Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. In 1989, he established the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs and to expand the audience for Haring’s work through exhibitions, publications and the licensing of his images. Nine months after completing the mural in Chicago, Haring died of AIDS-related complications at the age of 31 on February 16, 1990. Since his death, his work has been the subject of numerous international retrospectives and can be seen in the collections of major museums around the world. Using universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war, featuring a primacy of line and directness of message, Haring was able to attract a wide audience and assure the accessibility and staying power of his imagery, which has become a universally recognized visual language of the 20th century. For more information, visit www.haring.com.


Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street, is open Monday–Friday, 10am–7pm, Saturday–Sunday, 10am– 5pm; closed holidays. Admission is FREE. For the latest news and events, visit chicagoculturalcenter.org, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @ChiCulturCenter (#ChicagoCulturalCenter).


The Year of Creative Youth

In a citywide celebration of Chicago’s young artists and the mentors who inspire them, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have designated 2018 as the “Year of Creative Youth.” The $2 million investment by the City of Chicago will include a Creative Youth Festival across the Millennium Park Campus, performance opportunities for teens at city festivals and partner events, cultural grants and convenings of youth arts organizations and a marketing campaign, among other events.

As part of the Year of Creative Youth, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will also present the annual Chicago Public Schools All-School Exhibition from March 22 to April 12 at Expo 72. The juried art exhibition highlights the diverse talent and work of Chicago Public School students in the professional platform of a  gallery setting. Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph Street, is open Monday–Thursday, 9am–7pm, Friday–Saturday, 9am–6pm and Sunday 10am–6pm; closed holidays. Admission is FREE. For information, visit cityofchicago.org/dcase.


Upcoming 2018 Exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center

Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush

February 10–May 6

Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush is the first solo exhibition in a museum for the Chicago-born artist. The exhibition is a 10-year survey of approximately 30 of the artist’s paintings, watercolors and collages. Abney, born in 1982, is at the forefront of a generation of artists that is unapologetically revitalizing narrative figurative painting, and as a skillful storyteller, she visually articulates the complex social dynamics of contemporary urban life. The exhibition is organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Exhibit Hall, 4th Floor North

February 9, 58pm: Exhibition Open House


Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle

June 2–October 1

This multi-faceted project explores the past, present and future of North America’s Great Lakes – one of the world’s most emblematic and ecologically significant ecosytems.  Painted in Rockman’s signature, meticulous but visionary hyper-realist style, the works in the exhibition are anchored by five mural-sized (72” x 144”) oil paintings, each exploring a theme that emerged during Rockman’s field research and engagement with lake experts. Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

Exhibit Hall, 4th Floor North


African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race

October 27, 2018–March 3, 2019

Featuring work from a wide range of practices including cartooning, sign painting, architectural signage, illustration, graphic design, exhibit design and product design, this exhibition is the first to demonstrate how African American designers remade the image of the black consumer and the work of the black artist in this major hub of American advertising/consumer culture. African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race is funded in part by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, as part of Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago’s art and design legacy.

Chicago Rooms, 2nd Floor North


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. For more information, visit cityofchicago.org/dcase.


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