Keith Haring Fitness Court dedicated at Kutztown University

The campus community at Pennsylvania’s Kutztown University has a new spot to work out, alongside the distinctive images of the late pop art icon Keith Haring.

The public university and nonprofit Kutztown Community Partnership on Friday dedicated the Keith Haring Fitness Court at Normal Avenue and Baldy Street.

Haring was born and raised in Berks County’s Borough of Kutztown, and referred to himself as “Keith from Kutztown” as his works elevated him to worldwide fame, organizers of Friday’s ribbon-cutting said in a news release. Haring died from AIDS-related complications in 1990. He was 31.

The Keith Haring Fitness Collection is a limited edition, outdoor, public art collaboration with the New York-based Keith Haring Foundation, the Outdoor Fitness Court, and the National Fitness Campaign, according to the release.

Kutztown’s court features a 32-foot-by-35-foot outdoor bodyweight circuit training system with 30 pieces of bodyweight fitness elements, including seven full-body circuit training stations and a bodyweight training wall. Bodyweight circuit training challenges users to lift or push up their own weight ,as opposed to using dumbbells, barbells, or other weights to build strength.

“We are proud that Kutztown University and the Borough of Kutztown is one of 10 sites chosen nationally for this Keith Haring branded facility,” said university President Kenneth S. Hawkinson. “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 diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and more.”

Leading sponsors recognized Friday included St. Luke’s University Health Network; Jeffrey and Raine Fussner; T-Mobile; state Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks; and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Sponsorship opportunities for the Keith Haring Fitness Court are available at give.classy.org/fitnesscourt.

The court is available for public use, and students and faculty in the university’s sport management program dedicated recent coursework toward programming for the facility.

Keith Haring Fitness Court dedicated at Kutztown University

A Kutztown University student tries out the Berks County state school’s new Keith Haring Fitness Court, dedicated with a ribbon-cutting Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.Courtesy photo | For lehighvalleylive.com

“It is a huge opportunity and experience for us students to gain the knowledge of fitness, improve our health and wellness, as well as open our minds to promoting a healthful lifestyle for our community,” said Morgan Hurd, a senior majoring in sport management and minoring in fitness administration. “Some of the plans we have been working on regarding programming are enhancing the workouts to be competitive, fun, and creative.

“Working as the student representative for this project has helped me gain the experience of working through communication. It has helped to promote health and wellness here at KU, while bringing recognition to the artist Keith Haring.”

Keith Haring Fitness Court dedicated at Kutztown University

Kutztown University President Kenneth S. Hawkinson visits the Berks County state school’s new Keith Haring Fitness Court, dedicated with a ribbon-cutting Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.Courtesy photo | For lehighvalleylive.com

According to the release, Haring went to Kutztown High School and his legacy lives on throughout the Borough of Kutztown. In honor of the love he had for his hometown, Haring gifted “Untitled (Figure Balancing on Dog)” to Kutztown Park in the early 1990s and more of his iconic art can be found on a floor mural in the New Arts Program building on Main Street, preserved under coats of polyurethane.

Haring was known as 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 his work has become a widely recognized visual language to many.

He also gave a 1984 drawing of the Nativity scene to Kutztown’s St. John’s United Church of Christ, where he was baptized. He lived next door and attended Kutztown Middle School, now the home of the Kutztown Area Historical Society at 212 S. Whiteoak St. The society’s collection 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, Haring’s niece, Yenna Hill, designed a mural on the side of Young One’s Records building, 26 S. Whiteoak St. in Kutztown. The mural was then painted by community members, student artists, and some of Haring’s family members.

Keith Haring Fitness Court dedicated at Kutztown University

Kutztown University, a public university in Berks County, and the nonprofit Kutztown Community Partnership celebrate the opening of their Keith Haring Fitness Court with a ribbon-cutting Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, on the campus at Normal Avenue and Baldy Street in the Borough of Kutztown.Courtesy photo | For lehighvalleylive.com

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Kurt Bresswein may be reached at kbresswein@lehighvalleylive.com.

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