LA2

Brimming with exuberant energy and stylishly striking images, HIGH & TIGHT, LA2‘s solo exhibition, is a cause for celebration.  Proclaimed by Keith Haring — with whom he had collaborated in the 80’s — as the “Graffiti King of the Lower East Side,” LA2 is tighter than ever. Pictured above is LA2 standing next to the exhibit’s curator and gallerist, Jonathan Satin. Several more images captured while I visited the space at 198 Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side follow:

Installation of several canvases, sneakers, skateboard deck and more 

 

Several more artworks and memorabilia reminiscent of LA2’s collaborations with Keith Haring

Canvases, repurposed traffic sign, skateboard deck, guitar and collaboration with London-based Stik

 

You can join LA2 tonight — from 8-11pm — at 198 Allen Street. He promises “live painting and dancing” in celebration of Independence Day. And through Sunday’s 5pm closing, the space is open every day from 12-8pm

Photos: Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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quik-and-revolt-graffiti-urban-art-fair

The first New York edition of the Urban Art Fair continues through 3pm tomorrow afternoon at Spring Studios in Tribeca.  The artworks pictured above are collaborative works by NYC graffiti pioneers Revolt and  Lin Felton aka Quik at the Green Flowers Art Gallery booth. What follows are several more images of urban artworks, representative of a range of styles, genres and techniques.

NYC native, Paris-based JonOne with Fabien Castainer

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Lower East Side-based LA2 with Dorian Grey Projects

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Swoon with Taglialatella Galleries

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French artist Swiz with David Bloch Gallery

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NYC-based multi-media artist Alexis Duque with H Gallery

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Nick Walker with Galerie Brugier-Rigail

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Bronx-based graffiti legend John Matos aka Crash for Spring Studios

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The Urban Art Fair continues at 50 Varick Street today until 9pm and tomorrow, Monday, from 11am to 3pm. Ticket information is available here.

Photo credits: 1, 3, 7 & 8 Karin du Maire; 2, 4-6 Sara C Mozeson

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Speaking with LA2

February 3, 2014

"Keith Haring and LA2"

Based on the Lower East Side, LA2 creates bold, brightly-colored energetic works on a range of surfaces. Befriended by the legendary Keith Haring as a young teen, LA2 is best-known for his distinct tag that has earned him accolades both on the streets and in galleries and museums world-wide.  I recently had the opportunity to interview him:

When and where did you first start tagging up?

I was 10 when I first started tagging. The street was my canvas.  I lived on the Lower East Side, and so those were the streets that I hit.

Who or what inspired you at the time?

I noticed kids at the Boys Club and in school tagging up. And I was inspired by Lee Quinones’s work that I saw on subway cars and on walls in my neighborhood.

LA2

Did you tag alone or did you work with crews back in the day?

It didn’t matter.  I just wanted to tag up.  I worked mostly alone, but I did get up with TNS (The Non Stoppers) and El 3 (RIP), who later died when he was electrocuted by the 3rd rail.

You went on to collaborate with Keith Haring.  How did you first meet Keith?

Keith was looking for me.  He had seen my tag and wanted to find me.  When Keith was working on a mural at Junior High School 22, Richie SOE came to my house and told me that Keith wants to meet me, and so I went over there.

How did Keith Haring’s work change after meeting you?

Before he met me, he was doing mostly simple characters. After we began working together, his work became more energetic. And soon after Rock Hudson announced that he had AIDS, Keith came out of the closet, and his artwork took on a more sexual tone.

LA2 art

What was it like collaborating with Keith?

It was great.  I’ve always been fond of Keith as a person and as an artist.  We travelled to Europe together, and Keith made sure that I was paid what was due me.  I feel grateful to Keith, but not to the Keith Haring Foundation. But that’s another story.

Your artwork has been exhibited in galleries worldwide. How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries?

I think it’s great.  It’s a win-win for both galleries and artists. We artists have to make money to keep doing what we’re doing.

Any thoughts about the graffiti-street art divide?

There’s less and less of a divide.  After Keith Haring collaborated with me, the museums had no choice but to accept graffiti.  This past year, I became the first writer to paint in the Children’s Museum of the East End in the Hamptons.

LA2

Who are some of your favorite artists?

They’re all dead.  Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Basquiat were my favorites.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I generally work alone.  But in addition to Keith Haring, I’ve collaborated with quite a few artists including Richard Hambleton, Kenny Scharf and my girlfriend’s daughter, Jasmin.  And when Stik was in from London this past fall, I collaborated with him.

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in all of this?

I think it’s great.  Since my girlfriend, Ramona, created the website, we’ve received invitations from galleries overseas in such countries as Italy and Germany.

LA2

Do you have a formal art education?

No, I’m self-taught. I dropped out of Seward Park High School to travel with Keith Haring and help him establish his career. 

What is the riskiest thing you ever did?

Just getting my tag up is risky.  I’ve spent time in jail for that.  Whenever I take my dog, Nico, for a walk, I tag when he pees. And I’ve gotten locked up for that, along with Nico. He’s gotten locked up, too! 

What inspires your art?

It’s inspired by my emotions…the things I go through… my thoughts and feelings.  Creating art is how I express myself.

LA2

Do you work with a sketch in hand?

Never, it’s all straight out of my head.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

I’m always happy.  I love them all.

How has your work evolved through the years?

It has gotten more detailed.  There’s more line work and people tell me that it’s tighter.

What do you see as your role  — as an artist — in society?

My particular role is to educate kids on how to express their creativity in a healthy way.  They need to use the right materials and to cover their faces.  I developed health problems (COPD) by not protecting myself when painting.  I love lecturing kids and working with them. I will be doing a workshop with children this spring at the Angel Orensanz Center in conjunction with the Fridge Art Fair.

LA2

What do you see as the future of graffiti?

It’s going to become more and more valued as an art form.

The Europeans have always seemed to value it more than we have. Why do you suppose they are so much more receptive to graffiti than we here in the States are?

It’s because they appreciate art more, in general.  It’s always been that way. And on a personal level, Paul Kostabi sold my art in Italy 20 years ago, gaining the attention and appreciation of Europeans.

What’s ahead for you?

Traveling, exhibiting both here and overseas, educating the youth and continuing to become healthier.

Editor’s note: A selection of LA2’s work in on exhibit at City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection at the Museum of the City of New York. Curated by Sean Corcoran, it opens tomorrow, February 4, and continues through August 24.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky;  first two photos — of LA2 collaborating with Keith Haring and of LA2 tagging — originally published in Keith Haring, Rizzoli — courtesy of LA2; all other photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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"Angel Ortiz aka LA2"

For its second annual Young Collectors Exhibition, the Leila Heller Gallery is featuring an exuberant selection of works in a wide range of media by Angel Ortiz aka LA2 and LaROC. Befriended as a young teen by the late Keith Haring, the two clearly influenced one another. And in this exhibit, as in so much of LA2’s artwork, Keith Haring’s spirit is visibly alive. There is even an LA2 Pop-Up Shop dedicated solely to LA2’s objects, reminiscent of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, a fixture for almost 20 years on Lafayette Street in lower Manhattan. Here are a few images from the exhibit that continues through Wednesday, January 8, at 568 West 25th Street in Chelsea.

Spring Flow

"Angel Ortiz aka LA2"

Heart Clock

"Angel Ortiz aka LA2"

Untitled

"Angel Ortiz aka LA2"

Tribal Mask

"Angel Ortiz aka LA2"

Guitars

"Angel Ortiz aka LA2"

And some personalized graffiti made available to guests on opening night

"Angel Ortiz aka LA2"

 First and final photos captured on opening night by Dani Reyes Mozeson; all others by Lois Stavsky

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East meets West, and calligraphy meets graffiti at the Leila Heller Gallery in Calligraffiti: 1984-2013. And this past Thursday’s panel discussion, moderated by Leila Heller, provided an intimate glimpse into the disparate worlds that initially converged in a gallery setting in the exhibit that Ms. Heller and Jeffrey Deitch curated 30 years ago. After Leila Heller began the talk by sharing her personal and professional history, the five participants — Ayad Alkadhi, eL SeedFab Five FreddyLA2 and Rostarr presented their distinct experiences and observations.  Following are a selection of images from the exhibit and from Thursday’s panel discussion.

South Korean native Rostarr

Rostarr

Rostarr shares a bit of his history

Rostarr

Paris-based eL Seed

eL-Seed

eL Seed to the left of Fab Five Freddy who spoke of his early determination to get graffiti the recognition it deserved

El Seed and Fab Five Freddy

NYC-based LA2, whose tag has been part of the Lower East Side’s visual landscape for over 35 years

LA2

And an early collaboration with Keith Haring

Keith Haring and LA2

The exhibit continues through October 5th at the Leila Heller Gallery, 568 West 25th Street.

Photos and reportage by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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