Kay-Rosen

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The Keith Haring Bathroom Is Back and Better Than Ever!

Once Upon a Time, in 1989, Keith Haring painted a mural called “Once Upon a Time” in the bathroom of New York's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender, Community Center, best known as The Center.

The mural, a Boschian scene celebrating gay life in the pre-AIDS era, was part of a historic 1989 exhibition called “The Center Show.” Haring died of AIDS nine months later.

Though it was supposed to be temporary, the mural became permanent. The bathroom fixtures were removed. The men’s room became a kind of shrine. Then it was closed to the public while it, and the entire building, were renovated. 

Next month The Center cuts the ribbons on its rethought and redesigned 13th Street structure. Overseen by Brian Ripen of RSVP Architecture Studio and Nicola Mongelli of N+ Architecture and Design, the renovation gives pride of place to “Center Show” works.

Along with Haring, the artists whose pieces survive include Arch Connelly, Leon Golub, Steven Lack, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Kay Rosen, Barbara Sandler, Kenny Scharf, Nancy Spero, Robert Storr, Susan Strande, George Whitman, and Martin Wong.

The artworks are dispersed throughout the building. Be sure to take the stairs.

Images here, from top, all 1989: Keith Haring, “Once Upon a Time," Richard Taddei, "The Kiss,” Martin Wong, Untitled, Nancy Spero, “Elegy," Steven Lack, "Boy on Wall” (detail), Kenny Scharf, “Love,” Haring details.