The Carmine Swimming Pool inside the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center is a well-known remnant of Haring’s contributions to public art in NYC – indeed on a NYC parks website page ‘remembering’ Keith Haring the mural has the most photos of any singular work, showing it in progress & completion. It’s a great work – a blend of mer-creature and humanoid shapes with fishy friends:
I have looked at the mural a lot – so I was well aware of who made it & from whence it came, but perhaps not its entire history.
But that’s just the beginning of this adventure – the mural was just a stepping stone to a greater ‘huh, who knew!’ exploration.
Walking up 7th Ave one evening, intentionally strolling as slow as possible to look at and take in as much texture as possible – buildings, architecture, light, artifacts – I noticed a sticker stuck behind a window grill that made me think, “Hey what’s that?”
Upon closer inspection it contained a QR code:
With an app already installed I scanned it. The link contained a series of instructions. I wasn’t able to pursue them today, as the first destination (a library) was already closed, but I’d be back.
A few weeks later I buffered the necessary time to pursue the instructions. I made my way to the nearby public library:
I located an oversized artist book on Keith Haring, which contained a spread on the Carmine pool mural. The spine wasn’t cracked per se, but the book did have a ‘comfortable’ opening at the page on the pool mural; it had clearly been opened many times before:
I read the entry on the mural – I never realized previously how often Haring talks about himself in 3rd person – writing, frankly, is not his strong suit:
Back to the instructions, they further guided one to locate the first word of the twelfth line in the second column:
The instructions continue: At this section in the library was a ‘book’ by an author with the surname of the boxer from the moving Raging Bull. The answer to this I did not know, but these days we all have the world’s knowledge at our fingertips – I did a quick Google search to locate the name ‘LaMotta’:
(The movie – connecting the dots – has a scene that shows the pool in the background)
OK this is getting fun.
I walk up to the ‘Classics’ section and there’s a guy leaning back on a chair looking at his phone, a power cable plugged into an adapter in a nearby wall outlet; his cable is slightly obstructing my approach but he recognizes that I want to access a book and leans forward in his chair so the cable slacks out of the way. I find the book – the spine labels clearly distinguish it from the other books on the shelf:
It’s clear from pulling it off the shelf that’s no book! It has a funny weight, and something inside jostled around. The guy in the chair begins looking at me, curious as to why I am taking photos of shelves of books and this book I just pulled off the shelf? He’s unsure what’s happening. I open the lid to the hollow book and inside is a ‘log book,’ under which are a bunch of trinkets:
At this point the guy in the chair can’t help but lean towards me and inspect what’s going on. I turn to him and he pulls out his headphones. I explain the notion of geocaching, and how it leads people on small adventures of exploration and discovery. His face goes from mostly-expressionless to an ear-to-ear grin and he goes, “Cool man. That’s real cool.”
I encourage him to look up the website and read more about the phenomenon. And so can you. I’ve been aware of the adventures for a while – many, many years – but this is actually my first geocache. I like that it was a completely random stumbleupon, of an area that I walk by often and otherwise hadn’t noticed the window & sticker before. Also reinforces my intention to walk as slow as possible in this city – I mean when I’m in a hurry I’m in a hurry, but otherwise I prefer to pace myself, and really observe the vibrations of the streets, because there’s always a door that beckons to be opened or a sign that has hidden meaning or a history of a place or object that will redefine what you think you know about a place and time.