KUTZTOWN, PA – Kutztown University is partnering with Kutztown Community Partnership (KCP) to bring a world-class, one-of-a-kind Keith Haring Fitness Park to campus to help promote health and wellness in the Kutztown community. The interactive fitness park will be located on the corner of Baldy Street and Normal Avenue, on the KU campus, where Haring’s art will be integrated into every element.
Keith Haring was a legendary activist and artist who revolutionized pop art through his graffiti-like pieces full of abstract lines and colorful flairs. His 1980s illustrations grew out of the New York street culture and has become a widely recognized visual language to many.
“We are thrilled to partner with KCP to bring a state-of-the art outdoor fitness center to our community,” said Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, university president. “The Keith Haring theme is particularly exciting as it ties in so many strong aspects of our community, including health and fitness, art, history, education, town-gown relations, support of DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) initiatives and more.”
The Keith Haring Fitness Collection is a limited edition, outdoor, public art collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation in New York and Outdoor Fitness Court and the National Fitness Campaign (NFC). The fitness court will feature a 32’x35? outdoor bodyweight circuit training system with30 pieces of body-weight fitness elements, including seven full-body circuit training stations and a body-weight training wall.
The cost of bringing this project to campus is $200,000 plus maintenance costs. The KU Foundation is actively raising funds and accepting inquiries for sponsorships. There are different sponsorship levels; the title sponsor will have their name placed below Keith Haring’s signature in the fitness park. Support the project at https://give.classy.org/fitnesscourt.
This project is an incredible opportunity for the Kutztown community to pay reverence to one of its native sons, as Haring was born and raised in Kutztown, Pa. Despite his worldwide fame, Haring always stayed true to his roots and would often refer to himself as “Keith from Kutztown.” Haring went to Kutztown High School and his legacy lives on throughout the borough of Kutztown. To recognize and honor the love he had for his hometown, Haring gifted the ‘Untitled (Figure Balancing on Dog)’ to Kutztown Park in the early 90s, where the sculpture remains today. More of his iconic art can be found on a floor mural in the New Arts Program building nestled right on Main Street, where it is preserved under coats of polyurethane.
Haring also gifted a 1984 drawing of the Nativity scene to Kutztown’s St. John’s United Church of Christ, where he was baptized as an infant. Haring lived next door and went to what used to be the Kutztown Middle School but was purchased in 1979 to become the home of the Kutztown Area Historical Society. Located at 212 S. Whiteoak Street, the Historical Society features original Haring art drawn on several chalkboards that are protected under plexiglass. His elementary art can also be found lingering in the halls of the buildings of the Kutztown School District. In November 2021, Haring’s niece, Yenna Hill, designed a mural on the side of Young One’s Records building, located at 26 S. Whiteoak Street in Kutztown. The mural was then painted by community members, student artists and some of Haring’s family members. Among Haring’s family members who were present and contributed to this mural were Haring’s father, Allen, his sister, Karen DeLong, and his great aunt.
Sandy Green, Kutztown University’s community liaison and government relations assistant and KCP’s community liaison, has been working diligently to bring the Keith Haring Fitness Park to campus. Her journey first began when she met with Meggan Kerber, executive director of Berks Art Council, who informed Green about this opportunity. Green then applied for the project through the NFC to be considered as one of the 10 cities across the country who would be qualified for this unique program. Once Green informed the NFC that Kutztown was Haring’s hometown, the line went silent. The NFC accepted KU to be home to one of the locations to curate Haring’s collection.
“We are proud and excited that Keith’s hometown, Kutztown, was one of 10 nationally chosen sites for the project,” Green said. “We have an amazing opportunity to transform one of Kutztown’s highly visible locations, the corner of Normal Avenue and South Baldy Street, into an iconic destination point. The Keith Haring Outdoor Fitness Court will be part art gallery, part outdoor gym and a point of pride for Kutztown.”
The Kutztown Community Partnership and Kutztown University have been instrumental in making this fitness park a reality. KU will pour a concrete pad for the NFC team to install this custom, world-class fitness park. The park is set to be ready in the fall of 2022 and will feature Haring’s iconic dancing figures designs.