Keith Haring Chicago Mural

In 1989, one of the most renowned living artists in the world came to Grant Park in Chicago and began drawing outlines without a plan on a 488 foot long mural. Over the following week, 500 Chicago Public School students would join him, inspired to express themselves and write their own messages as they filled in around “Barking Dog,” “Radiant Baby” and other familiar motifs from the artist’s work.

Nine months later, the artist – Keith Haring – was dead. The panels from the project were dismantled and donated among the contributing public schools. Some 36 of the panels were gathered at Chicago’s Midway Airport, and these 36 will form the core of Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural, a new exhibition from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events beginning on March 3 2018.

The media was a constant presence during the City’s declared Keith Haring Week, and much of the process of creation of the Chicago mural (it’s officially “Untitled, 1989” on Haring’s website, which we take as definitive) was captured by media, including reporters from Rolling Stone. Interestingly, among the sponsors for the original project were Metro and Smartbar according to the photo on Haring’s site:

The exhibition also features “a collection of photographs, correspondence, designs, plans, t-shirt drawings and much more.” The 36 panels will be returned to the schools “for conservation and distribituion to select schools” after the exhibition ends.

Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural opens on March 3 2018 at the Sidney R. Yates Gallery, 4th floor at the Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E. Washington Street in downtown Chicago. The exhibition runs all summer until September 23, 2018, and is free.

Lead photo: Marcelino Y. Fahd, via