When the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles opened its “Art in the Streets” exhibition, one graffiti artist -- New York’s own LA II, aka Angel Ortiz, who collaborated with Keith Haring -- received his invite to the VIP opening while he was sitting in a cell at Rikers Island, New York’s city jail, where he faces a felony charge. According to Heidi Follin, whose Follin Gallery represents the artist, LA II was arrested for graffiti three times in a short period, which kicks the charges up to a felony.
LA II’s graffiti can be seen on a refrigerator included in “Art in the Streets,” which is pictured on Mat Gleason’s Facebook page in his “MOCA Street Art Show” album. †
LA II, who is known for writing his graffiti in the interstices of Haring’s works, recently had an exhibition at a gallery on Bleecker Street, and has a ready market in Italy, where his paintings go for between $500 and $5,000. But he was arrested for graffiting over the Kenny Scharf mural at Houston and Bowery Streets, and also for painting a rather large graffiti mural on the Urban Outfitters store on Second Avenue in the East Village. Ironically, LA II is an official Urban Outfitters Artist.
LA II has been in prison before on car theft and drug charges, and remains something of an irrepressible character. “He’s been at Rikers for about three weeks,” Follin said, noting that his trial is set for Apr. 27, 2011. “He could receive a sentence of two years, or be released for time served, we don’t know,” she said.