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ONCE THE FABRICATED HISTORY
|New York | March 11, 2010|
How did Jeffrey Deitch get the prestigious job as director of a major American Museum, LA’s MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) when he cannot even tell the difference between an art collaboration and work done by a single artist? Deitch has known Keith Haring since 1980 as well as Keith’s only collaborating partner Angel Ortiz aka LA II. The Deitch gallery has been the exclusive representative of the Keith Haring estate. Jeffrey Deitch has been involved with the work of Keith Haring.
Keith Haring was a graphic artist until he partnered, right from the beginning, with LA II who was a young LES graffiti artist. After Keith saw LAII’s work he sought him and asked him to collaborate with him. Keith did his graphics and LA II did the filling flow between the graphics which was is his signature “LAII”. They two working in tandem turned Keith’s work into fine art.
Jeffrey and others who claimed the Keith Haring legacy have diminished LA II’s contribution naming it a “work for hire” an LAII an unmentionable nobody. If LA II is mentioned it is only a passing brief note. Authoritative books, like the oversized one done by the Whitney Museum of American Art © Keith Haring (© ironic right?) and the other, Keith Haring, Jeffrey Deitch, Suzanne Geiss, Julia Gruen, publisher Rizzoli priced @ $100.00 massive done by Deitch show numerous collaborative pieces as well as some pieces done only by LA II without giving LA II any credit.
When you study and learn something the first time, when the facts are wrong it is harder to relearn the material. Imagine how many scholars, professors, teachers, researchers, students, artists, the curious, studying these have and absorbing misleading information.
The director of a major art museum, like MOCA, is suppose to know something about the history of art. The director is the expert. Now that Deitch is the new director of MOCA, wouldn’t one assume he could tell the difference between a collaboration with LA II and a piece done only by Haring whose work he has known since 1980?
Angel Ortiz is a Lower East Side Puerto Rican raised in the projects. Is racism the reason Angel Ortiz was cut out of Keith Haring’s history? Was LA II cut out because Haring's work now sells for a lot of money and there is fear LA II may be entitled to some of the profits? Not sure, but it is a tragedy no matter what. (Keith Haring died February 16th, 1990).
Angel Ortiz came to me for help. His frustrating story started off with a Keith Haring exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In the show they had paintings, which were Keith Haring & LA II collaborations, but only gave credit to KH. Angel was depressed. What could I do? I gave him an art show and got a story into the Village Voice (Jul o2-www.villagevoice.com/2002.../keith-haring-s-silent-partner/). Soon after this, LA brought over an umbrella. The print design on the fabric of the full sized umbrella was only LA II’s art work, but again was being sold at the Pop Shop as an original KH work of art. I got this 2nd feature, along with a photo of the umbrella, into a German Art magazine. Thinking maybe that would light a fire which would burn it’s way to the root of the problem. No!. The whole world was watching meant nothing.
A few years slide by. Then in August 2008, the New Museum and Deitch Projects, to celebrate what would be KH’s 50’s birthday, spend $30,000 to recreate the famous early 80’s KH graphic design wall on the NW corner of Houston and the Bowery. This looks like a public wall as there is no protective fence. Again. LA comes to me for help.
What to do? Since LA’s tag was on the original wall anyway, and to be true to the original, the copy artists reproduced La II’s art without even asking his permission. The door was now open to turn the wall into a KH & LA II collaborative work of art. Just like the old days.
LA II did this collaboration as a sign of his love and affection for Keith, (Keith was not the problem, the rip-offs started after Keith died). BUt before starting I made ssure that a NY Times reporter would be notified. We got the story into the paper (www.nytimes.com/2008/08/06/arts/design/06hari.html). Again. A no respone from the public.
I wrote the background to this identity theft in a book called the Front Door Book, published by OHWOW, as well as, got it picked up in other magazines and publications.
I am an artist, a documentarian, and a community historian, and I just like everyone else, we all know what credit for work means- we all have felt the pain of being cheated out of a deserved credit- and sadly some of us have suffered the mental angusih that comes with identity theft.
Deitch is now a public figure. He is the new director of one of the most important museums in the world. Public trust is a key factor to having this kind of job. One expects the director to be honest, to have integrity, and to be able to properly credit an artist work you have been around for 25 years.
I did not want this fight with Dietch. So I made an appointment and went over and talked to him in person. He was not having it. Then, because this is such a typical inner city story, I tried to explain to Jeffery Deitch how this identity theft and loss of credit, has caused LA II to suffer from depression and how at times he is anger about being cut out of art history and eventually got involved in drugs. He was caught making a drug sale and went to jail. When he got out he cleaned up his life and married an older woman. This older lady has a son by the name of Luis Rosado, AKA, Blueboy, which is now LA II’s stepson. And this is why, in the end, a story about the tragic life of two Lower East Side Puerto Rican kids. In the early 80’s both are in their early teenagers, both born and raised on the Lower East Side.
One LA II, as an early teenager, gets asked to be the partner of an unknown artist by the name of Keith Haring. Keith is a graphic artist. LA II is a graffiti artist. Like Braque and Picasso, working in tandem, invent Cubism, between KH and LA, the two of them working together develop the style that right from KH’s first show gets branded and sold as the Keith Haring style. This combined style is loved and adored by the critics, the press, and the public.1 The KH & LA collaboration sculptures in the first show are known as KH works of art-- for example: the Statue of Liberty, the Little Mermaid on a rock, soon to be followed by the Head of David, the King Tut sarcophagus, the vases, etc. which, are now appreciated and thought of as pivital to his career and some of KH’s most important early work.
Angel Ortiz ends up cheated by some as some of the respectable and promenade members of the cultural world.
Luis Rosado, AKA Blueboy, also in his early teens, around the time Angel Ortiz hooks up with Keith Haring, kills a neighborhood youth and gets sentenced to life in jail. Over the years in prison, Blueboy makes a reputation as being one of the most dangerous prisoners in the NY State prison system. He decides that he wants to be a leader of the gang the CRIPS, so he gives himself a high-ranking title. Luis Rosado, AKA, Blueboy becomes infamous for killing Larry Davis. Larry Davis, in 1988, working with his prominent lawyers, William Kunstler and Lynn Stewart (convicted and jailed, for helping the WTC terrorist Omar, Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian Blind Cleric) beat the Bronx court system, even though he shot 6 NYC police- the Bronx jury was convinced the cops were corrupt, and Davis won his case. Larry Davis eventually went to jail for a later murder. Angel Ortiz, still struggling and is now Luis Rosado’s stepfather.
To me, as a Lower East Side resident, this is all just one big interlocking neighborhood story. In the same way it would be national news if LA II married Nancy Reagan. When I was explaining this intriguing and complicated history to Deitch, he got extremely agitated and started yelling that I was threatening him. I felt he >should know some of LA II’s background. I was not threatening him. Where is the threat? Blueboy is locked away in solitary confinement for 10 years. Dietch is moving across the country to LA and as THE Director of one of the most museums in the world, Obama himself will be lucky if he can get in to see him.
I think Jeffery Diech was yelling as an excuse to stop hearng about how 2 inner city kids each got their own tragic fame. One by murder, the other by being robbed. In so many ways this is really just another tragic ghetto story. Certainly it is worthy of a book or a movie. And how can something so obvious as collaboration between 2 artists not be recognized by the world’s leading experts? What happened to Angel Ortiz is also a joke on the art viewing public. A sick joke I might add.
Side bar- LA, as a working partner, accompanied Keith on his first trips to Italy and Japan. The period between 1980 and 1986, is when LA II and Keith Haring did the majority of their work together: 1- “Between 1980 and 1986, Haring achieved international recognition and participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions. His first solo exhibition in New York, held at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in 1982, was immensely popular and received critical acclaim”. --
Angel’s art is the squiggles- LA II, LA ROCK- TNS- the surround sound- like the Pollack drips- ?????
Elizabeth Sussman: Keith Haring, Whitney Museum of American Art, with Contributions by Jellybean Benitez, Fred Brathwaite, Feffrey Deitch, David Frankel, Ann Magnusson, Robert Pincus-Witten, Fred Schneider, Robert Farris Thompson, and Junior Vasquez, 296 pages, 325 illustrations, 175 in color, 12.7 x 12 x 1.2 inches, Bulfinch Press, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, New York, Toronto, London, September 1997.
"In 1980, mysterious chalk drawings of simple outline figures began appearing on unused advertising space in New York City's subway stations. Combining the appeal of Disney cartoons with the sophisticated "primitivism" of such artists as Jean Dubuffet, these underground artworks were bold, humorous, accessible, subversive--and unmistakably the work of one man, Keith Haring. This is the first look back at this singular talent." —via
"Elizabeth Sussman...has edited a sympathetic book...that is at once great fun to look at and extremely moving....The appreciations of Haring from friends, fellow artists and critics are not only tributes to a gifted painter who died young but laments for a vanished era of disco innocence, when people believed that an artist might be anyone with a can of spray paint, some Magic Markers and a subway wall." —Wall Street Journal, Francine Prose, 12/04/1997