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NSU Art Museum's current exhibition has important connections to Pride history

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Photo by Steven Brooke
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NSU Art Museum
Exterior of NSU Art Museum

The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale celebrated Pride Month with a discussion of their latest installation called “A Sense of Pride.” It revisited the works of Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists from New York’s thriving East Village scene of the early 1980s.

The corresponding exhibition, "Confrontation: Keith Haring & Pierre Alechinsky," debuted in February and coincided with the museum’s recent appointment of activist and physician Dr. Lee Sider as the inaugural LGBTQ+ ambassador.

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“Since living in Fort Lauderdale for the past five years, I have noticed a disconnect between the gay community and the visual arts community in South Florida,” Dr. Sider said.

“I am looking forward to bridging the gap between these two communities moving forward by reaching out to various LGBTQ+ organizations to personally invite them to the museum for tours of current exhibitions.”
Lee Sider, NSU Art Museum LGBTQ+ Ambassador

The museum credits the exhibition as the first to directly explore the intersections between Keith Haring and Belgian avant-garde painter Pierre Alechinsky.

Miami-based creatives Oliver and Min Sanchez have direct connections to the exhibition. They witnessed the creative peaks of the East Village scene during the height of hysteria brought upon by the AIDS epidemic.

“The AIDS crisis affected not only the art that came out of the creative community, it affected the community as a whole,” Oliver said. “New York City was a very depressed city.”

Oliver’s older brother Adolfo was an artist. The two moved to New York from Miami in 1980. Oliver met Min soon after and became engrossed in the art surrounding them. They went on to befriend Keith Haring and witnessed history unfold.

“Keith was very clear,” Oliver explained. “He knew somehow he only had so much time here and he didn't waste it. Every day counts.”

In 1990, Oliver lost his beloved brother Adolfo and his friend Keith Haring to AIDS. complications. By 1992 the couple had decided they endured enough suffering.

“We lost 28 friends in six years,” Min said. “We got hit hard with that. So we came down to Miami.” The couple began a family and continued to carry the legacy of creative vitality left by his brother and their peers.

In 2005 Oliver launched Swampspace Gallery in Miami’s Design District. With it Oliver works to carry the torch of the legendary Club 57 in Miami.

“The stars have blessed me with great artists, starting with my brother Adolfo,” he said.

Swampspace’s current exhibition commemorates the one year since the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside.

“People need to look at history and the past and those who came before them because there's so much to learn and be inspired by.”

"Confrontation" will run at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale until October 2.

Shianne Salazar is a former intern and freelancer at WLRN News.