Friday, December 31, 2010

Keith Haring Graffiti Art

Keith Haring (1958-1990)
Graffiti art is vandalism. It is unwanted and can be obscene and destructive. However, Keith Haring became well-known and famous by doing graffiti art. He was born in 1958 and died in 1990 of AIDS. After Keith moved to NYC where he studied art, he became involved in the thriving art community that was developing outside of the gallery and museum system. Soon, Haring joined artists like Basquiat and Scharf in creating immediate and accessible artwork, graffiti in the New York subways. Haring's dynamic images rely on patterns, strong design, vivid colors and expressive lines to show movement and passion concerning his interests and social issues. His work might be drawn from aboriginal art since it displays the simplicity and force of gutsy, primitive style artwork. He was an idealistic and compassionate person, donating his time to create murals that benefited children after he became well-known.

Haring's influence is strong in current design. His work has had an impact on our culture with his vital and bold images.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Book by Patti Smith

Patti's new book, "Just Kids" is an amazing story of two poor artists, lovers living in NYC during the 1960's and 70's.  It won the National Book Award for non-fiction. Prior to reading this book, I didn't know anything about the life of Patti Smith. I certainly didn't know the story of her close and intensely personal relationship with the controversial photographer, Robert Mapplethorp. The two met in NYC when they were just 19 and starving newcomers to the city. They quickly developed a love relationship and a shared personal and artistic support system that lasted the rest of his life.

In 1989 I saw photographs by Mapplethorp and I was shocked by some of the images but I didn't know the story behind them. Mapplethorp died in about 1988 of AIDS. The gripping story of Patti and Robert's early years as struggling artists sheds light on their eventual divergent creative directions. She doesn't sugar coat how difficult life was for them. Living in New York and working to achieve artistic success was more challenging than I would have imagined. They lived on the edge of starvation for years. Not many people would have stuck it out but they did. Eventually, it paid off but not really in the way they had suspected.

Patti was a hard working woman and supported herself and Mapplethorp minimally for years by working in a bookstore. She also bought and sold used books with her developed knowledge of valuable collector's items. However, that wasn't always enough. When life became particularly difficult Robert started hustling in the streets at night. Both women and men were attracted to him.  He was beautiful. His raw and shocking images followed years of internal searching brought on by feelings that developed during this seedy period of selling himself to the highest bidder. Patti doesn't dwell on this other than to report her despair during this time. One can only imagine the desperation of such a life.

Even as they found other lovers, Patti and Robert continued to support each other as artists and friends. It's a tragic love story with an artistic twist.

Patti Smith

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Line drawing by Charlotte Rossmann

Violence to self can happen.
Violence to others can happen.
But it's never, ever right.
It can be a habit to be broken, just like junk, just like smack.
It is seductive and seemingly beneficial to the ego to stroke with hatred.  Get over it!
It's violence and it's never, ever right. 
You wicked, wicked soul to think bad things of yourself.
Get over it!
It's never, ever right.