Artist/documentarian Clayton Patterson’s recent article in the Village Sun adds a new perspective to some Keith Haring announcement cards in the collection of Gallery 98. Patterson has been a longtime advocate of artist Angel Ortiz (better known as LA2) who worked with Haring in the early 1980s but who is now increasingly excluded from the Haring story.
The announcement card for Haring’s first “solo” exhibition at the Tony Shafrazi gallery in 1982 is clear proof of LA2’s significant role during these early years. Tseng Kwong Chi’s photograph on the card shows Haring and LA2 together in front of a large mural consisting in equal measure of Haring’s figure drawings interspersed with Ortiz’s dynamic abstract designs. Many similar works by the two artists were included in the exhibition and the announcement card reads, “Keith Haring (with LA2).”
Haring was always quick to acknowledge the importance of the teenage tag artist who first introduced him to the world of graffiti and helped energize his work. Following Haring’s death, however, the fact that Haring paid LA2 has led the Haring estate to define his contribution as work for hire. Often, LA2’s role in works done by both artists goes uncredited.
In his first full telling of Ortiz’s story in 2010, Patterson speculated that the rise in Haring’s prices has led to the “fear that LAII may be entitled to some of the profits.” Another reason for the exclusion might be the tendency of curators, writers and promoters to want to streamline history and highlight only a few, selected celebrity stars.
Angel Ortiz is still working under the name LA2. Visit his website here.