Volume 80, Number 43 | March 24 - 30, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Clayton Patterson

LA II’s tag on the Kenny Scharf mural on Houston St. It was soon painted over. The “II” is a diagonal Roman numeral under the “a,” sandwiched by two “S”-like brackets.

LA II busted, misses own opening

Graffiti artist Angel Ortiz, a.k.a. LA II, was arrested on the night of March 11 for “tagging” in the East Village, writing his various graffiti names — LA II, LA ROC and LA ROCK — on walls around the neighborhood. LA II tagged on top of some high-profile commissioned graffiti murals, including the Joe Strummer one outside Niagara bar, at Seventh St. and Avenue A — to which he added some neon-green squiggles and a dollar sign on the lapel — and also on the Kenny Scharf mural, near the Bowery on East Houston St.

To top it off, according to DNAinfo, LA II spent the next 24 hours in jail, and so missed the opening of an exhibit on his work on March 12 at Dorian Grey Gallery on E. Ninth St.

Two weeks ago, in his “Clayton’s Page” article in this newspaper, “Who is LA II, and why can’t he get any recognition?” Clayton Patterson decried how the art establishment — in particular, Jeffrey Deitch, director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art — continually fails to give LA II credit for his collaboration with the late Keith Haring.

Asked what was behind LA II’s seemingly ill-timed tagging torrent, Patterson noted the graffiti artist is grieving because his wife, Rosita, died only a month ago. But, in addition, he said, it was probably “a cry for help.”

“Deitch is head of one of the two most powerful museums in America, and he won’t respond,” Patterson said. “Can you imagine the frustration, year after year? We do the whole thing in The Villager and no one responds — a lot of graffiti fans responded, but no one in power responds.” The tagging, he said, is “a cry to bring attention to yourself. It’s about asking for help. The level of unfairness he’s had,” Patterson added, “it just seems it’s because he’s Puerto Rican.”

Lincoln Anderson


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