From the Collection of Swen Swenson
Swen Swenson was a classically trained dancer, best known for his work on Broadway and television. He also loved art, he had the world’s largest collection of carousel figures, and he bred and raised Yorkies for over forty years (the present lot is a portrait of one his cherished canines). But, above all, Swen was an activist, and although passionate about many causes, he was a relentless advocate in the fight against AIDS. Among his many philanthropic acts, he was known to spend his weekends on Santa Monica Boulevard raising money for the disease by letting people pet his “gay” dog, Fever, for one dollar.
Swen met Keith Haring in the 1980s and took the artist to his first ACT UP meeting in New York. The two maintained a close friendship until the artist’s death in 1990 and Swen continued to champion and support Haring until his own death from an AIDS-related illness in 1993. Bound by a commitment to fight the disease, the two shared a unique bond, illustrated in the loving correspondence and thoughtful letters he sent to Keith before his death. In one such note, Swen writes, “Dear Keith, There’s an awful lot of love from so many people surrounding you to help you pull through this. So, hang in there, Buddy!” The card is signed with love from Swen, Fever, and his two Yorkies, Stash and Popcorn.