I don’t know about you, but I am a HUGE fan of graffiti! Ever since I spotted the graffiti of protest on Israel’s “Security Wall” in Bethlehem, I really began to understand just how powerful this form of art can be!
Lately, New York City has been on a graffiti craze, with the famous British street artist Banksy setting up a monthlong residency in the City in October 2013 and producing a new work of art daily and sharing them on his Instagram page. One month later, not much of his work remains, but he also left a good luck message for 5Pointz, NYC’s embattled graffiti mecca that was fighting for its life.
An old warehouse in Long Island City (Queens), 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, so named to be the center of the five boroughs, became quite the destination for free artwork in NYC. There was a problem though. The warehouse was in such a state of disrepair that it was no longer safe for occupancy and the only feasible solution for the landlord was to tear it down and build some shiny new condo buildings that seem to be popping up all over the place.
The artists had been fighting to somehow get the building preserved. Landmark status was denied and everyone knew that the next thing was a wrecking ball. But nobody knew exactly when that would happen. Early January, the rumor mill declared. I visited in mid-November and the very next day was horrified to learn that in the dark of night, 5Pointz was gone… Whitewashed under police protection. The building still stands (for now), but the art is gone. Sure, “street art is meant to be transient,” as my friend reminded me, but this was a travesty that everyone knew was eventually coming!
5Pointz was spectacular though, and I want to share some photos of the amazing work that once stood there. Enjoy!
RIP 5Pointz. You will be sorely missed!
8 replies on “RIP 5Pointz, NYC’s Graffiti Mecca in Photos”
Excellent examples of talent. Wow! I’ll never get to bed tonight, I’ll be right here, scrolling. 😀
Right? Such a shame that it’s all gone!
I love graffiti (although not tagging). I think it’s funny that you need a permit to paint on the graffiti building though. Isn’t it kind of the point to paint where you want to?
So 5Pointz was a “curated” space. Basically, the owner of the building signed off on making it a center for graffiti art, so several people organized the space and issued permits to paint there. People actually had to prove their skill in order to get a permit and then where assigned a space to paint in. The big mural spaces lower to the ground were only issued to the best artists. Now, though, the owner of the building is tearing it down as it’s not economically feasible to maintain it anymore. Yes, permits sort of go beyond the traditions of graffiti, but 5Pointz was a legit place. That is, until its time ran out…
I saw this from the subway on my visit to NYC earlier this year. I wish I had paid it more attention. I didn’t really know what it was until it was all scrubbed clean. Definitely some amazing displays of art on these ways. Great shots!
I’d honestly never heard of it either till the whole Banksy craze hit NYC in October. On his last day, he left a good luck message for 5Pointz, which, at that point, was in the news a lot for its pending destruction. The artists waged a very public battle with the owner of the building, fighting in court for landmark status that was denied. After the court decision, it was pretty clear that 5Pointz would be gone by January, so I heeded the call to check it out while it was still around! Turns out my timing was perfect, for it was gone the very next day!
Some of the work pictured here was actually across the street from the 5Pointz building (on the street under the 7 train), so I’d think that work still survives, thankfully.
Although some graffitis are done illegally and can be considered destroying other’s property or vandalism. I myself was also impressed how graffiti art can inspire someone and how it can make a statement. Any passerby has observed the colorful and provocative art in the street. I think that graffiti is one of the hardest forms of art because you cannot erase and it’s hard to do some changes. Too bad that the graffiti paradise of 5Pointz has finally reached its extinction, no matter all the efforts made by many for the preservation.
I think that the statements that graffiti can make is my favorite thing about the art form. I first fell in love with it when I saw it used as a means of protest on the “security wall” that Israel built to separate portions of the Palestinian-controlled West Bank (more on that here). If nothing else, graffiti is a nice way to brighten your day and make you think a little. And as a friend of mine reminded me during Banksy’s NYC “residency” in October, “Graffiti is meant to be transient.”