Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Foto: 5Pointz, Queens

A recent article in the New York Times: Writing’s onthe Wall (Art Is, Too, for Now)* , took me back to my 2008 visit to New York City. It was a beautiful spring day in early April when I headed out to visit the Museum of Modern Art offshoot known as PS1 in Long Island City, Queens. It was here that I discovered the amazing 5Pointz Arts Center.

The five story 5Pointz building is now pretty much all but derelict following the collapse of a fire escape in 2009 that seriously injured a jewellery artist who worked in the building at the time. Never the less, the building has become famous for the hundreds of graffiti art works that cover the façade of the building.

According to the New York Times article, Jonathan Cohen, aka ‘meresone’, has been managing the site since 2001, although it is not clear from the article if that is when the graffiti art began to be added to the building.

Apart from the many New York artists that have added their work to the 5Pointz building, artists from all over the USA, as well as from France, Australia, Spain and elsewhere have also contributed to the site. The building is mentioned in some foreign guidebooks and it has become a tourist attraction in its own right, and is well worth a look if you have the time to fit it into your New York visit.

While tagging is illegal in New York, it appears to be permitted if a building’s owner gives the Ok for a work of graffiti art to be painted on their structures. Permission to use the warehouse as a giant canvas has long been granted by the owner, Jerry Wolkoff, who also rented out studio space until the afore mentioned accident in 2009.

Now however, Mr. Wolkoff wants to raze the building to make way for two 30-story apartment towers. As you might imagine, graffiti artists are not happy with this decision, and a campaign is underway to preserve the building at 45-46 Davis Street, and convert into affordable art space for many of New York City’s artists and craftspeople. While I wish them luck with their campaign, I have a feeling that commerce will eventually win out, and this incredible building and its unique works of graffiti art, will eventually only exist online.

*Note: Articles in the New York Times are eventually only accessible via paid subscription. While the article referred to above was viewable when I wrote this entry, it may no longer be so.

Click here to see a New York Times slide show of images from the 5Pointz building.

The 5Pointz site also features many images of the graffiti art.


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