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2010 Kennedy Center Honors Watch: Jones

The Washington Post arts staff is keeping an eye on the doings of the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors. This year's class includes Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, Bill T. Jones, Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey.


Artist Keith Haring's painting of Jones in a swirl of black and white designs. (© 1983 Muna Tseng Dance Projects, Inc., New York © Keith Haring Foundation / National Portrait Gallery)

When choreographer Bill T. Jones arrives to receive the Kennedy Center Honor in December, he will be justly saluted for his contributions to American dance and theater, as well as for bringing to the public conversations on political and social conditions.

In 1994 Jones created "Still/Here," a ballet that directly spoke to the AIDS/HIV epidemic. His pioneering work on the crisis opened discussions about the role of arts in helping to educate the public on complex issues.

Now there's a chance to see Jones, the show-stopping model, at the National Portrait
Gallery. In 1983 Jones posed for artist Keith Haring, who painted Jones in a swirl of black and white designs. Jones' taunt physique was a full-length canvas for Haring's joyful rendering. The patterns intertwine circles, signs and lines, in a style reminiscent of Kasai Velvet and other styles of African weaving and fabrics. And, of course, of Haring's familiar bold lines.

The result was captured by photographer Tseng Kwong Chi and is part of "Hide/Seek-Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," the ground-breaking show now at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition is an examination of sexuality and gender in American art and will be on view until Feb. 13.

Jones will be saluted, along with the other Honorees, Dec. 4 and 5. The all-star celebration will be televised on CBS Dec. 29.

By Jacqueline Trescott  | November 2, 2010; 10:40 AM ET
Categories:  Dance, Jacqueline Trescott, Kennedy Center, Museums  | Tags:  bill t. jones, keith haring, kennedy center honors, national portrait gallery  
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