Opened: December 2020
Born in 1967 and raised in the Lower East Side of New York City, LA2 (Angel Ortiz) is a Puerto Rican artist with an artistic style developed over a lifetime of tagging on the streets of his vibrant community filled with murals, gritty dive bars, music blaring from cars and kids playing in the streets.
LA2 came of age in the 1980s when tags adorned the trains, busses and walls of the City and like many kids of that era, he joined the movement and adopted a pseudonym: LA2. By the age of 14, his name permeated the walls of lower Manhattan garnering street fame that led to a chance encounter with another downtown artist, Keith Haring who was 9 years his senior. The two artists became fast friends and began spending their days painting in Haring’s studio and their nights partying at the downtown clubs. As an impressionable teenager, their friendship changed the artist’s life forever as he became introduced to Haring’s impressive art world and its stars: Warhol and Basquiat. In exchange, LA2 and his TNS crew gave Haring the street cred he needed to navigate the streets with ease to create public art, even on subways, a surface typically reserved for the most daring graffiti writers.
Together, LA2 and Haring created hundreds of paintings and traveled the world exhibiting their art. While Haring drew cartoon characters like dogs, babies and other figures, LA2 would add in his style – tags, squiggles and bold lines that gave their collaborations extra energy, movement, and a street aesthetic. Tragically, Haring passed away in 1991, devastating LA2 and forcing him to find his own artistic path.
For the past three decades LA2 has applied spray paint and ink to canvas, clothing, and various found objects in his unwavering journey to push his personal graffiti pop style. Fluorescent colors rooted in his Puerto Rican heritage, bold lines and tags learned in the streets, and cartoons tributes to his friend Haring, make each painting a sweet piece of candy for your eyes. The energy of the old dance clubs, of the Avenues filled with cars blaring music, and the children who grew up on this street art culture are channeled onto each canvas that explodes with positive energy and life – a life of art, color and celebration.