Archive for April 19, 2013

Artist of the moment….L.A. II also known as Angel Ortiz…

Angel Ortiz is a well known street and graffiti artist born in New York city in 1967. He also uses different tags when signing his street works such as L.A. II or L.A. Rock or L.A. 2. The nickname is short for “Little Angle.”

Price range information:  Ortiz has worked with acrylics, oils, ink, and market. Prices range  $500 to $4,000.

Ortiz started tagging at the age of 13 years old when he met Keith Haring for the first time. I wrote a little about Haring in my piece about Betty Mbitjana, as I found their styles similar. Its easy to see his influence on the line work of Ortiz. His lines like Harings are flowing with life and movement. The couple were an odd pair as Haring was a gay art school dropout that would pass away from A.I.D.S.  in 1990. Ortiz was a young Puerto Rican teen looking for an idol that he ended up finding in Haring. The two were great friends and Haring even referred to him as a younger brother.

In this interview Angel Ortiz tells us about his relationship with Keith Haring.

After the death of Keith Haring, Ortiz had some difficult times dropping out of high school. Ortiz went back to the streets and became a heroin addict serving 8 months in jail.

Ortiz seems to feel he contributed to success of Keith Haring, even working on collaborations but without any financial gain or even recognition for the artist.

Angel Ortiz had his first large showing in New York in 1982 at the Tony Shafrazi gallery.

In this clip we see a show at a gallery given for Angel Ortiz and another street artist named Kidlew. Kidlew is presented first and a brief interview with Angel Ortiz starts 3 minutes into the clip. Artwork is also shown.

L.A. Ortiz and artists like Cool Disco Dan laid the ground work for the street/ graffiti movement that currently exists in the art world.


Artist of the moment…..Betty Mbitjana….

Betty Mbitjana hails from Australia and was born in 1955. In her artwork she uses symbols and colors associated with her Aboriginal background. She was born in the Northern Territory of Australia. Her mother was also a famous artist named Minnie Pwerle. Pwerle was born in 1922 and passed away in 2006. An example of Pwerle’s style below. I love the way Aboriginal painters emphasize color in their art. Many works are painted are very dark black background, when color is added it JUMPS off the page!


In this clip we see some very large works by the artist.

Mbitjana works in acrylics.

When looking at the work of Mbitjana many artists come to mind.  When looking at her very large works there is a shape repeated over and over that reminds me of footprints. When looking at these in particular I am reminded of the great artist Keith Haring. Though you may dislike his work or dismiss it as too cartoony, Haring’s works contain movement in their line quality. The figure could be a stick figure, but with Haring even stick figures had movement. Mbitjana’s circle shapes also seem to move and vibrate. Below are some great examples of Keith Haring and his style of art. Notice he usually doesn’t put in little details such as the eyes, nose, or mouth but its very easy to grasp the emotion of his figures.

Another artist that comes to mind when watching Mbitjana painting is Vance Kirkland. Kirkland started painting in a realistic style, then switched to an abstract method in which he hung from the ceiling in a hammock like product he made himself. He painted with his canvas flat on the ground, much in the same manner Mbitjana produces her artwork.

I enjoy Mbitjana for her creative mixture of abstraction and I would call a primitive version of Op- Art. Another interesting idea is the fact that art colonies exist in much the same way they did centuries ago. Take the Aboriginals of Australia and the Inuits of Canada, both have seen the demise of their lifestyle due to urbanization and economic factors of their home countries. Both peoples continue to churn out great works of art and also families that have multiple generations of working artists.

price range information: Many works are priced from $500 to $3,000.


Artist of the moment……New Zealand artist Mike Morgan….

Mike Morgan is a well known artist all  throughout Australia and New Zealand best known for his Surrealist paintings depicting large groups of people enjoying themselves. Mike Morgan was born in Whangarei ,New Zealand in the year 1952.

When the artist was fifteen he got employment at a local newspaper working in the cartoon and caricature section of the operation.

In 1972 at the age of twenty Morgan started painting with oils for the first time.

In 1980 made a voyage to North America visiting both Canada and the United States for the first time. Upon his return to Australia in 1981 Morgan was determined to be a full time professional artist.

1987 sells works to the Children’s Hospital.

1989 sells works to rock band U2.

Mike Morgan is now based out of  Auckland, New Zealand.

Price range information: Sorry none available.

In the clip below we visit a gallery show. The first 50 seconds is a scary trip in a car to the gallery, I say scary because in New Zealand cars drive on the left side of the road. Paintings start around 50 seconds into the clip.

When looking at his highly illustrative style I reminded of John Brack, the two are very similar with wonderful characters full of expression. I did a post on John Brack just a few days ago but to refresh your memory a painting by John Brack below.  Brack came from Australia and lived from 1920 to 1999. Its his most famous work, 5 o’clock Collins Street, showing evening rush hour in Australia. A great painter of crowd and group scenes, something else in common with Mike Morgan.