Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Avant Garage

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Avant Garage

Article excerpt

A new exhibition of the late Keith Haring's works inspired by the pounding music of the Paradise Garage disco reveals the artist's most homoerotic--and playful--side

The multicultural gay '80s nightclub the Paradise Garage, ground zero for the New York house music scene and the inspiration for world famous contemporary dance parties like the Sound Factory and Body & Soul, is having its moment in the sun. Last fall, Strut Records released the CD Larry Levan Live at the Paradise Garage, and owner Mel Cheren detailed the club's colorful history in his book My Life and the Paradise Garage: Keep On Dancin'. And now through February 2001, Deitch Projects in New York City and the Keith Haring Foundation are presenting a show of Haring's works influenced by the Paradise Garage, where the late artist spent most of his Saturday nights between 1984 and 1987.

Haring's friend and former assistant Julia Gruen recalls, "[The Paradise Garage] was a big influence on Keith's social life. That's where he met DJ Larry Levan and other players in the club scene--most infamously, Madonna--who became some of his closest friends. He always said that the ritual of going every Saturday was like going home to be with his family and his tribe." Gruen, who now administers the Keith Haring Foundation, explains that the club also fed the artist's interest in black and Latin urban culture and New York City street life. "Studio 54 was never Keith's scene. He was very downtown, very St. Marks Place, and very much influenced by the graffiti movement."

Of the 40 or so works on display at Deitch Projects, only a few black-light murals and two columns painted for a Grace Jones performance were actually created either in or specifically for the Paradise Garage, but the club's culture was clearly an influence. "You can see very specific break-dancing moves in these works. …

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