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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ryanishungry

Will gentrification doom a Keith Haring mural on the Upper West Side?

By
Howard Halle
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Four months ago, the Church of the Ascension sent out eviction notices to the tenants of an apartment building it owns on West 108th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side. But there’s another resident there that may be sent packing as well: A rare Keith Haring mural in the building’s stairwell that depicts vigorously dancing figures in the artist’s inimitable outline style. He painted them in the early 1980s when the place was known as Grace House, a Catholic youth center. (Haring knew some of the teens who frequented there, and not only visited the place but also deejayed parties, according to a 2007 article in The New York Times.) The center moved out, but the images stayed. Just how much longer, though, is an open question.

As reported by DNAinfo, the eviction letter cited the church’s financial woes as the reason for the order to leave by August 1, but details for future plans were not released. The departing occupants assume, reasonably enough, that the building will be sold to a developer, either to be renovated or torn down for condos, leaving the fate of the murals very much in the air. The building isn’t landmarked, so there isn’t much anyone can do if future owners decide the Haring must go. In the meantime, some of the tenants have filed suit against the church.

Grace House, as it’s still called, isn’t the only Haring mural location in New York City, however. There are several more, and you can see three of them below.

 Crack Is Wack mural at 128th Street and Second Avenue

Bathroom mural for the The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center

Carmine Street Swimming Pool Mural

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