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Endangered Keith Haring Mural Should be Made a Landmark, Councilman Says

By Ben Fractenberg | August 9, 2016 9:34am
 The Grace House, a residential building owned by the Church of the Ascension, is home to a three-floor mural by legendary New York City artist Keith Haring. But the Church has booted tenants due to costs cuts. The tenats fear that a sale of the building would imperil the mural.
Evicted Tenants Fear For Future of Keith Haring Mural
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A threatened mural by famed artist Keith Haring could be saved if a push to make the 1980s artwork a landmark is successful.

City Councilman Mark Levine is seeking protective status for the mural that was painted for the former Catholic youth program Grace House on West 108th Street after DNAinfo reported that tenants were being forced out of the building so it could be sold to developers.

"The pending sale of this building not only puts tenants at risk, it threatens an invaluable piece of our community's cultural legacy,” the councilman said in a statement.

“I am moving to secure landmark status for Haring's interior murals so that they are protected for generations to come."

Haring was an artist whose work became synonymous with 1980s New York City.

Building owner Church of the Ascension sent a letter to the building's 16 residents informing them they would have to move out by Aug. 1. The church cited financial struggles as its reason for the sale.  

Several tenants filed a lawsuit claiming they lived in SRO units and are protected from eviction under the state’s rent stabilization laws, though most have now moved out.

Former Grace House director Kinah Rosas, who was one of a few dozen teens who witnessed Haring paint the mural, said Levine’s actions were “fantastic” and she hoped the mural could be saved.

“The fact is it’s not too late and that could happen — it’s just the best,” said Rosas, 44.

Rosas added that she was in touch with other former program participants and they were willing to raise money to help preserve the work.

“Whatever we have to do, that’s what we’re willing to do,” she said. “It’s our history and New York City’s.”

A representative for the church did not return a request for comment.