Kay Haring talks about brother’s prolific art career

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Kay Haring, Kutztown native and sister of late artist Keith Haring, stopped by the Berks History Center on Thursday to read from her book, “Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing” to a group of about 20 people.

The book tells the story of her brother’s life and how his love for art started from a young age, as did his generosity.

Haring, who now lives in California, said she came back to Berks to read her book for the same reason that she originally wrote it: to talk more about her brother, who had a short but prolific art career before he died of AIDS in 1990 at the age of 31. Her 500-word illustrated book includes almost 30 pieces of Keith’s artwork.

“My reason for doing this in the very beginning was really so that people knew more about how much of his work he gave away and how much he helped nonprofit organizations,” Haring said. “He used his art in lots of different ways.”

In keeping with her brother’s philanthropic legacy, Haring has been donating 25 percent of the profits generated from her book to the Youth Advisory Committee at the Berks County Community Foundation since its release early this year.

“That is just another way that I can demonstrate and reiterate so much of what Keith did,” she said.

Haring also wanted to share her book with people in Berks to emphasize that although Keith was born and raised in Kutztown, his art left an impression on people around the world.

“Certainly, many, many people, even if they don’t know his name, recognize his work,” Haring said. “I think lots of people know he’s from Kutztown; the people here, they know he was local, but I think sometimes what’s true with local people is they don’t recognize the real importance that he had in the art world.”

In his early 20s, Keith Haring moved to New York, where he became known for his large, cartoonish and colorful artwork, much of which was done with the artistic input of children. In keeping with this style, after Kay Haring finished reading her book, children in attendance were encouraged to create what Berks History Center education curator Vicky Heffner described as “Keith-like drawings.”

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