Earlier this year, historians and LGBTQ, HIV/AIDS and park advocates came together to create AIDS Garden Chicago to memorialize Chicago's fight against HIV/AIDS.
The 2.5-acre lakefront garden will be located at the former site of the Belmont Rocks in Lakeview and share the space with the Chicago Park District. Fiscal sponsorship of the garden will be administered by the Chicago Parks Foundation.
The mission, according to the garden's website, "is to create and maintain a garden space for reflection and education of the AIDS epidemic, its victims, survivors and history, to celebrate and honor its heroes and the ongoing work to eradicate HIV/AIDS."
On Sept. 27, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Tom Tunney ( 44th Ward ) joined the Keith Haring Foundation to announce that a sculpture, Self-Portrait, by the late artist and activist will be installed in the garden. Self-Portrait is a gift from the foundation and marks the first time his work will be erected in Chicago. Rosenthal Fine Art was the broker between the Keith Haring Foundation and AIDS Garden Chicago.
"Keith Haring's Self-Portrait finds its rightful home at AIDS Garden Chicago, where it will serve as a point of reflection and a place of discussion for all Chicagoans," said Emanuel. "This sculpture is one of many ways we are bringing the conversation around AIDS to the forefront to ensure that Chicagoans are better able to live long, healthy, well-rounded lives."
"There is no stronger activist than Keith Haring to help us honor the lives of those lost, and celebrate those who work tirelessly to educate and raise awareness," said Tunney. "Self-Portrait's new home at AIDS Garden Chicago is a small but powerful way to continue talking about the epidemic as we fight to bring both HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths to zero."
"The Keith Haring Foundation is proud to make this gift to the City of Chicago, a city that has for decades supported public art," said Keith Haring Foundation Executive Director Julia Gruen. "Having this unique work as the centerpiece of Chicago's new AIDS Garden is an honor for the Keith Haring Foundation, as it would have been for Haring himself. The Keith Haring Foundation would like to thank Mayor Emanuel, Alderman Tunney, the Gladstone Gallery and Rosenthal Fine Art for their support."
"We are pleased to bring the Keith Haring sculpture to AIDS Garden Chicago," said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael P. Kelly. "As the curator of nearly 300 pieces of public art, it is important our collection reflects the rich tapestry of our city. Through this sculpture, we can continue to tell Chicago's story in our parks, through art."
The garden's draft design currently includes a Garden of Tranquility, the Stand Against Intolerance, Circle of Peace, a Hope and Healing space, Quiet Reflection and a Community Remembered space, as well as painted rocks that were saved from the original Belmont Rocks landscape. This is subject to change pending future meetings from the stakeholders.
To read more about the garden, visit http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/AIDS-garden-planned-for-Belmont-Rocks-Haring-art-to-be-included/62238.html.
See aidsgardenchicago.org/ for more information.