Artworks
Crack is Wack
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ajardini's picture

Sr. Editor

Lest inner city youths enjoy an afternoon of handball and forget the perils of drug use, Keith Haring and the city of New York ensure they are reminded!

No, but in all seriousness, this is a great work of public art. Erected in an East Harlem park that is now actually called ‘The Crack is Wack Playground,’ this monument to the straight and narrow was donated by the artist in the mid-80s, when NYC was experiencing a crack epidemic.

Haring was so worried about the issue that he started the mural without permission and got a $25 ticket for vandalism. Then the Parks Department looked the well-known artist up and asked him back to finish it.

I take a light tone with this heavy topic, but for serio: the crack epidemic spurned a nationwide moral panic on the subject of narcotics that directly influenced our so-called ‘War on Drugs.’ This no-nonsense stance on drug crime has us living in a country with the highest prison population in the world. The mural is right: crack is wack...but so is our system of incarceration.

So while Haring’s vibrant and community-oriented testament to health and good citizenship was well-warranted, and brings a historic piece of art to an underprivileged community...I think Nancy Reagan is haunting it. ‘Just say no’ to avoiding the deeper issues, people.