Feline-friendly graffiti felon is out of the clink, brings his images to gallery show
Mid-City Arts, the street-art gallery attached to a graffiti supply store that brought us last year’s big tagger-gone-legit debut show by Chaka (real name, Daniel Ramos), has gone the same route with another artist who grabbed the public’s attention before being grabbed by the authorities. The show is “Rick Ordonez: Kitty Litter.”
Orodonez first made a name in graffiti circles as Atlas –- the tag he used for many years, festooning the city with large, ornate graphic illustrations. But early this year his method changed, and he began spraying renditions of cute cartoon kitty cats across the L.A. landscape.
“I saw them and thought it was something completely different,” said Medvin “Med” Sobio, gallery manager of Mid-City Arts. “Everybody’s out there doing big, bad graffiti things [to show that] 'I’m a big, bad guy,’ and here he is, doing cats.” Sobio said he was able to track down the elusive Ordonez last spring and began planning a show of his cat phase.
The long arm of the law intervened in July, when investigators with the Sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau caught up with Ordonez, 33, and busted him for creating cats on public property, especially on or near the Pasadena Freeway. Charged with six counts of felony vandalism carrying a possible year in prison for each count, he pleaded to one of them in a deal that called for 90 days in the county jail, followed by 300 hours of community service and three years’ probation.
Sobio said the show got back on track after Ordonez had served his time, and that Saturday's opening was a sensation comparable to Chaka’s. But far from basking in the acclaim, Ordonez chose to remain incognito.
-- Mike Boehm
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Photos: A Rick Ordonez kitty in its L.A. street habitat (top); Chaka at his Mid-City Arts exhibition in 2009. Credits: Tomas T. Diaz (Ordonez kitty); Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times.