I wrote about this show when it first opened in November, but last Sunday, I was in San Francisco for a show I was in at the Bedford Gallery and went to see it. First of all, the museum itself, situated in Golden Gate Park, is architecturally unique and beautiful, in a brutalist Whitney sort of way. The café (which has a great menu) faces a serene sculpture garden... a great setting for any show.
Seeing your late friend’s big museum show is weird, exciting, impressive, sad, inspiring… a whole range of thoughts and feelings came over me. I tend to go through a show pretty quickly and then go back through the galleries two more times. You can see here, it’s a big show and I’ve only included maybe a quarter of the work. One of the things I realized while looking at this huge body of varied work was that Keith had really mastered many levels making art. He was talented, no doubt and like his idol and friend, Andy Warhol, he could really draw. He was an accomplished draftsman and he instinctively understood color and form. He had ideas he could articulate visually, and among other things he knew exactly how to present a piece so it had “wall appeal”. Not a lot of artists of our generation know how to to do that at quite the level he did. Finally, he was ambitious and wanted to be known. He stood in front of his work and knew that if HE was famous, his work would be seen. Fame is a LOT of real work and also like Andy, he came from a working class background and wasn’t afraid to actually get his hands dirty. But like a ballet dancer, he made it all looks effortless and included the viewer in the process. In shooting these pictures, I also included people looking at the work and I snapped of a young man that, at the time, I barely clocked in my peripheral vision. But looking back now, in the next to the last shot, you can see he looks an awful lot like a sweet boy named Keith that I met a long time ago. The day the show closes is the 25th anniversary of his death at age 31. If look at the last image, you’ll see a young guy who made quite an impact in just one decade –and he continues to inspire and provoke thought. Good job, Keith.