The Creative Vessel of the Human Spirit

"Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic." — Keith Haring

Defining your experience in the world may take different forms; strokes of bleeding watercolors, delightfully painful bike rides up the 101 coast, or maybe the basic state of speech reincarnated onto a word-filled page. We as designers recognize the weight of creativity in each of our individual lives but more importantly, within the intimate walls we dwell. Keith Haring was an extraordinary spirit who instinctively painted on walls, devoting his time to public works that carried social messages.

He composed more than 50 public artworks between 1982 and 1989, in cities around the world, many of which were created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers and orphanages.

At LOCZIdesign, art, if you will, is an integral connection between interior design, humanity and the adaptation of what it means to be alive. This week, we want to celebrate the human spirit of Haring, and others who's deeds pay homage to growth and progressive change.

The Universe of Keith Haring, a documentary suggested by a friend several weeks back, was a jumping point. I was lucky enough to follow-up my interest at the current Haring exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Haring's capacity for channeling vitality through his artwork is undeniable when viewing each piece. His desire to create an art-form for the people resonated with me as a collective human experience. The exhibit chronicles the period in his career from his beginnings in a rural Pennsylvania town to when he fully immersed himself in the avant guard downtown Manhattan culture. He quickly thrived in the artistic scene while innovating a different brand of urban art, experimenting with hundreds of canvases from walls, cars, naked bodies, clothes, to the homes of internationally respected artists.

"I don't think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it." — Keith Haring

In light of last weekend's Pride Parade, AIDS/LifeCycle and AIDSwalk coming up in July, it's important to recognize the impact Haring has left on overall world culture — his messages are still clear today in his artwork. He used his artwork to bring awareness to issues of AIDS, racism, gay rights, South African apartheid, nuclear weapons, and literacy, among others. Keith Haring was an artist but also a social activist whose work was a response to the New York City street culture of the 1980s. Much like his idol and friend, Andy Warhol, Haring's use of bright colors, valiant lines and simple subject matters was hugely influential of the counter-culture of which he was a part.

Keith Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988, it was then he established the Keith Haring Foundation to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations and children’s programs, broadening his audience. Haring used his imagery during the waning years of his life to speak about his own illness and generate activism by expressing universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex, and war. Haring attracted a wide audience and assured the accessibility and staying power of his conceptual art that became a universally recognized visual language of the 20th century.

Today, there are a vast number of foundations and groups dedicated to ending the widespread suffering caused by AIDS. Much like Haring, the co-produced San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center organized the AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) foundation in hopes of raising awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among participants, their donors, and the general public, stating that "They ride because—in the current economy—our agencies need these funds more than ever. Ultimately, we ride so that someday, we won’t have to."

We are honored to have a relationship with some of the people who have helped to raise 12.5 million dollars this year with ALC. Mike Ufferman, a newcomer to our LOCZIdesign tribe, not only will be racing in next year's event, but his partner, Bill Weatherford, took the time to speak to us this morning about his seven-day, 545 mile voyage from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Bill, who raised 8K alone and trained for six months before the journey, candidly explained his process,

"I didn’t love cycling. There were times where I would look at Mike and think, 'Oh my God, I have to get up in the morning and ride!?' But when I was at the finish line last year — working with one of the largest HIV health care advisors in the country — I was compelled to ride." — Bill Weatherford

Bill's intimate cycling team, Strangers No More, brought solace to him during the strenuous ride, even helping him endure a shoulder injury. "It was very interesting training as a team. People are tired and frustrated and are showing various emotional and physical highs and lows. I got dehydrated on day six of the ride. I was on the 90th mile of that day's ride [Apx 100 miles per day] and I was pushing very hard to get to a rest stop due to the pain in my left shoulder." But Bill was oblivious of his condition until attempting to ask for water, “'Hey, can I get some...', I couldn’t even talk." Bill continued. "My team caught up with me and the entire crew waited 45 minutes for me to rehydrate." Down the coast to the next camp, they all rode together, forming a protective band around him and his bike.

The ALC crew finished on June 9th all the way down the 101 coast, pushing their bodies and their minds to the finish line. If you'd like to join these men and women next year, click the following links for information regarding training and or volunteering. But if you want to take part of something happening in our city, check out AIDS Walk (on July 15th) and their information regarding how you can support the ongoing fight against AIDS and continue to honor and celebrate the collective human spirit!