Follow Up: The OLEK Saga Unwinds

MLK, ala Olek, autobio is not for pussies.


...and it’s a nightmare!

The way Olek tells the story on her blog:

  • First a big drunken asshole sexually harasses her.
  • Rebuffed, he taunts her obscenely.
  • Doused with her wine, he threatens her.
  • Then when she strikes out in fear  (um, admittedly, she punched him in the face while holding her wine glass…) she’s arrested.
  • Then they drum up charges based on her carrying a small scissors that, as we all know she uses for her work. (I mean, like: duh!)
  • Then she gets strip searched and harassed some more.
  • Then THEY CONVICT HER and make her wait forever for her sentencing.

Meantime she’s in a foreign country where she has no connections and does not know the rules; her english is not top-notch;  they put her in holding for three days; and she can’t call anyone because she doesn’t remember anyone’s telephone number by heart.

She also could not talk to the press, could not defend her good name, could not make clear how badly she needed help, nor explain exactly what her justifications were.

Her sentencing has now been moved to November 15th.

What’s the take away? When in England, never make a huge drunk angry no matter how angry he makes you. If he threatens you, wait till he takes his weapon out and messes you up. And put your glass down; it’s all fun and games until someone puts an eye out.

Read her harrowing tale and reach out to her here.

BITS: Bad Luck Angels and Angry Catholics


LA 2, in better days

Angel Ortiz, aka Little Angel, or, better known as LA II, or by his elaborate LA ROC tag which decorated many of his collaborations with Keith Haring, has languished in the shadows of his collossally famous mentor for 2+ decades. And now, he has been arrested for grafitti one time too many (three occasions) in a short period, and faces a felony charge.

Since his youthful adventures with Haring, Ortiz has waxed obscure, finding himself unacknowledged by Keith Haring’s dealers and biographers to the extent that he claims to have found some of his collaborations with Haring in sales and auction catalogs without any attribution to him and without receiving any compensation.

An unwieldy personality, Ortiz, who was very young when he began working closely with Haring, never managed to parlay his 15 minutes of fame into anything big enough to satisfy the star treatment he got when he toured with Haring at the age of 15. Promised that Haring was setting aside a trust for him, Ortiz found, upon Haring’s death, that no such fund existed. He has never recovered from this disappointment, nor from his subsequent struggles for acknowledgment.

This arrest comes simultaneous to receiving a VIP invitation to “Art in the Streets” where one of his collaborations with Haring is on display. It also comes upon the heels of a recent show at Dorian Grey Gallery, a rarity for Ortiz who has not shown often in the United States.

It is arguable that Ortiz has done fairly well. He even has a following in Italy and sells his works for prices between $500 and $5,ooo.

But a, perhaps bitter, Ortiz has been more than a little self-sabotaging. He has, for example, been arrested for painting an unauthorized mural on an Urban Outfitters in the East Village despite the fact that he is one of the company’s official artists.

He was also arrested recently for spraying the Kenny Sharf mural at Houston and Bowery Streets, a site he is fond of tagging ever since he added flourishes to the Kieth Haring trubute mural that occupied the wall in 2008.

However, these charges, which ironically add up now to a felony are not the worst of Ortiz’s rather startling list of past arrests, some of which have been for drug charges and car theft.

The story of Angel Ortiz is a sad and complex one. So young when he attached himself to Keith Haring, he was exposed to fame and to a world of promise which he found subsequently withheld for various reasons, many beyond his control. It has been argued that Ortiz’s influence on Haring was pivotal to Haring’s development and to his later, more decorative and intricate style. Indeed there are those who continue to champion Angel Ortiz and who feel a great deal of indignation over how history has treated him.


The most famous be-fouled toy cricifix in the world

Spew artist, Andres Seranno’s ‘Piss Christ’ met with violence yesterday at the museum of contemporary art in Avignon, France, when two crazed Catholics, not happy with mere spray paint, pulverized the work with instruments of violence, including an ice pick and a hammer.

It’s not a very original move. Paving the way for this quaint Catholic tradition, a copy of “Piss Christ’ was similarly demolished by two OTHER angry Catholics in 1997 as it hung in a museum in Australia.

Always ready to pick a fight when accused of idolatry, sensitive Catholics have been decrying the ‘Piss Christ’ ever since Seranno first emptied his bladder on it. But these holy renegades did not stop at ravaging the controversial photograph; they went on to vandalize another of the museum’s holdings before they ran away.

“I’m disgusted, Yvon Lambert, director of the museum told France Info, “Two works, dammit! They attacked the Piss Christ, that’s one thing, but they also attacked a beautiful photo of the hands of a nun. The ignorance of these people is unbelievable. ”



The painting of a nun’s hands to which Mr. Lambert refers, is another work by Serrano, entitled ‘The Church(Sœur Jeanne-Myriam)’: it has been revealed that the work was damaged in a struggle as museum guards tried to pry a hammer away from one of three (3) assailants. I had cited two in the story above.

There is speculation that the attack may be connected to protests held outside the Collection Lambert the day before. They were demanding that, Serrano’s ‘Immersion’ as it is properly called, be removed from the currently running  “I Believe in Miracles.” show. The museum will continue to display the works in their damaged state.

The Law of Maximized Irony

I have a metaphysical theory that I call The Law of Maximized Irony:

In a nutshell, any set of initial circumstances will resolve to the state of greatest irony.

Case in point:

With increasing frequency we see incredulous stories about artists who’ve made careers out of cribbing other people’s work suing artists who have copied them. Is it flat out hypocrisy, or good business strategy — or both? Whatever is behind it, the story makes for a lot of really good laughs.

Check out my latest in Hyperallergic:

Is a Cease and Desist About Irony, Hypocrisy or Legal Strategy?


For Your Consideration

Mean Authority Figure, Tots, and lame crayon flowers

Banksy is in LA marking up surfaces with his signature lil’ rascals, menacing authorities, misplaced mutts, and drunk and disorderly mice. Many have speculated on Banksy’s mousetrap motives for visiting Hollywood — that he may be creating a Banksy egg-hunt in order to draw academy attention to his film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which has been nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

Brash publicity tricks can only remind the academy, the press, and the chattersphere that the entire premise of the movie is mysterious and suspect, that the artist is a prankster who may will have created Exit Through the Gift Shop in order to establish an alter ego, Mr. Brainwash, for his blatant commercial endeavors.

The very first docuhoax ever to be nominated for an Oscar may well win just because the entire world is suspending disbelief.

MOCA Treats Street Art Like Street Art

Blu's Blog

Begging the question of whether it’s still “street art” if you commission it for a Museum, Jeffrey Deitch, director of LA’s  Museum of Contemporary Art, had a freshly completed mural by Italian street artist, Blu, immediately white washed.

Looks like street art to me!

The rather heavy-handed mural depicting military coffins draped with out-sized dollar bills instead of flags (get it?), graced the north wall of the Geffen Contemporary Building for only the time it took to document it as part of the exhibit for the show’s catalog.

MOCA’s official statement says that the mural was “inappropriate” and pointed out that The Geffen Contemporary building’s north wall sits directly in front of the Go For Broke Monument that commemorates Japanese American soldiers and is very near the Veterans Affairs building.

Deitch told reporters that the issue is not censorship but timing: “Blu was supposed to fly out the second-to-last week in November, so we could have conversations about it in advance,. But he said he had to change his flights, so he ended up working in isolation without any input.”

Immediate comparisons to the Smithsonian/Wojnarowicz debacle show just how sensitive the creative community is these days to any hint of censorship.

But, Deitch dismisses any similarity in the cases:
“Look at my gallery website — I have supported protest art more than just about any other mainstream gallery in the country. But as a steward of a public institution, I have to balance a different set of priorities — standing up for artists and also considering the sensitivities of the community.”

Deitch also claims that he and the artist are “on friendly terms, ” but Blu’s blog features a photo of the naked wall with the capton, “A really nice, big wall, in downtown L.A.”


Blu’s Blog


ADDENDUM: Via Hyperallergic: Blu claims that Deitch’s mural kill is indeed “censorship”; airs e-mail exchanges that challenge Deitch’s statements. This, likely, will turn into a fine back and forth. And in this hypersensitive atmosphere where artists, arts institutions, and pressure groups feel they are at war, issues like this one are bound to escalate. It is my own opinion that MOCA may not have dealt honestly with the artist and the public, but that the removal of the mural was not censorship. The commission was a blunder and the PR has been less than honest: period.

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