Angel Ortiz (now known as LA Roc or LA II) was 16 years old when he began his fateful collaboration with Keith Haring. Haring, who called him "the grafitti king of the Lower East Side," had searched Ortiz out after seeing his "tag" all over NYC upon his arrival from Pennsylvania. "My friend told me: 'There's some white guy with funny glasses and a tight ass looking for you,'" Ortiz relates. Ortiz was one of the earliest and best-known of an exuberant generation of street artists who would transform how America thought about art--indeed, what people would consider art.
Haring relates in his authorized biography: "I was so crazy about LA II's tag that I asked him to collaborate with me...The images consisted of his signature and my own.." Soon thereafter, Ortiz left high school to work with Haring. They had their first joint exhibition at Tony Shafrazi gallery in 1982. LA II is credited with teaching Haring his "high and tight" style, his use of marker, how to paint using spray paint, among other innovations.
LA's style has continued to evolve, with a more complicated use of line and form and more exuberant color, but his signature style remains almost instantly recognizeable--and he remains a pop icon.
Today, LA's work can be found in museums around the world.
Lawrence Fine Art will hold a solo exhibition of LA's work, entitled "LA Roc: Not Keith Haring", opening July 11, 2013.