The New York Times published a nice piece on Rufino Garcia, a delivery truck driver based at the 5Pointz warehouse. Garcia hated graffiti, constantly painting over any that popped up on his truck, until 5Pointz curator Jonathan Cohen (aka Meres One) painted his signature lightbulbs on the truck. Says the Times, “The truck has not been touched since, Mr. Garcia said; graffiti taggers tell him they are kept at bay by the reverence they feel for Meres One.” After the infamous whitewashing, the vehicle is now held up as a 5Pointz remnant — people stop to take pictures and ask to paint the blank roll-down gate in the back of the truck. Garcia took, as the Times states, “the unexpected role of an accidental apostle of the art form he once reviled.”
Just this afternoon local pols joined Kaufman Astoria Studios to celebrate the grand opening of New York City’s first outdoor stage. Kaufman Astoria designed the block-long, 34,800-square-foot studio space for productions to shoot realistic outdoor scenes and stunts. Construction began over the summer. The backlot also features a gate designed by David Rockwell which now serves as the new entrance to the studio. The backlot completes another phase in the overall vision for the studio campus to create an arts and cultural district — Kaufman hopes to continue to expand in Astoria to establish an even larger presence in the neighborhood.
Materials for the Arts, a Long Island City-based reuse center that assists nonprofits, schools, and community groups with arts programming, is holding a special fundraiser until December 31st. Until that day, donors Ellen Liman and the Liman Foundation will match every dollar raised up to $25,000. According to the website, the money raised will help support educational and outreach programs for Materials for the Arts. If you are interested in donating, go right here.
This weekend, a number of murals from 11 different artists debut at the Aqueduct Racetrack in South Ozone Park. According to Forbes, the artist have worked from 8am to 4pm throughout the week, using stencils and spray paint for work that incorporates racing themes, horses, and jockeys. Check out the works in progress here. The exhibit kicks off on Saturday afternoon and it’s free and open to the public. That night, there will be an evening reception with the artists, which is also open to the public. You can see all the event details for this weekend right here.
This morning, the 5Pointz artists report on their Twitter feed that the Wolkoffs have completely whitewashed the building. After the first paint job on Tuesday morning, a few art pieces remained — you can see some in the photo above; check out more photos here. But around three hours ago, the 5Pointz crew stated that whitewashing started up again, and now the last pieces are gone. The Wolkoffs even painted over artwork done on plywood, which could have been salvageable. Please send any pictures of the new paint job to email@example.com and we’ll post them here.
Your 5Pointz news doesn’t stop there. New York Daily News reports that Jerry and David Wolkoff may owe the aerosol artists cash damages after painting over their artwork. Apparently, written in Federal Judge Frederic Block’s 27-page court decision — the one where he ultimately rejected an injunction to stop building demolition — he stated that the owners “are exposed to potentially significant monetary damages if it is ultimately determined after trial, [the graffiti is deemed of] recognized stature.” The case would have to go before a civil jury, but it’s unclear how that would play out since the artwork can no longer be viewed or judged. According to the News, the judge found that at least some of the 24 art pieces cited in the suit could possibly qualify for protection.
Finally, DNAinfo reports that a group of kids who tried to tag the building last night were arrested. The group wrote “RIP 5Pointz” in marker over the whitewashed graffiti, but according to the 5Pointz Twitter the NYPD was near the loading dock under cover. The 5Pointz group asked fellow artists to keep the building white, stating “We need to figure out a solution to give fans an outlet where they can xpress their farewell.”
Last night 5Pointz artists held a candlelight vigil for the graffiti mecca, which (have you heard?) was whitewashed yesterday by the building owners. Queens Courier reports that the attendees gathered on the loading dock, where they lit candles and set up canvasses with artwork. Reports from Twitter say the evening was very calm and respectful. The gathering artists expressed shock and sadness for the abruptness of the cover-up act. As the artist “JUST” told the Queens Courier: “It’s just such a blow to the graffiti world. When you see it you say ‘gee, what are you going to do now?’ 5Pointz rest in peace.” After a number of attempts to save the building, it is expected to be demolished late this year or early the next. You can see more pictures of last night’s event after the jump.
UPDATE: Here are some thoughts from a reader, Paul Gullas; check out his pictures of the vigil after the jump: “I lived a few blocks from 5Pointz for a year and walked past it many times. It added a lot of character to the neighborhood, and, along with MoMA PS1 and the Space Womb Gallery, provided a kind of “Artists Circle” that made that intersection a nice destination spot. I understand the financial realities of LIC real estate, but I hope the developers make good on their promise to provide space for graffiti art and that whoever ends up owning the building doesn’t change their mind. I do wish that they had thought of a more creative use of the property that fit the spirit of 5Pointz instead of just more luxury housing. Even something like renovating the interior as, say, office space for startups, but keeping the facade as it was.”
Today undoubtably belonged to 5Pointz, and all those invested in the building coming to terms with its end. This afternoon Jerry Wolkoff spoke to New York Magazine on his decision to paint the building: “I had tears in my eyes while I was doing it. I know it seems like a bitter pill to take, but it’s medicine. I didn’t like it, but it’s going to get me better. It’s best for them, and it’s best for me. In my new building I’ll have walls for them to express their aerosol art.” He thought painting over the artwork now would be better than dismantling the building with the artwork still on it. “All I did was the right thing,” he said in the interview.
Tonight the artists will hold a candlelight vigil at the painted-over warehouse. According to the Save 5Pointz Facebook: “Tonight we bring a candle to 5 pointz to show respect to Meres, to Pat, to Marie, to the artists that painted these walls, to the fans that supported them, and too all that truly loved 5 Pointz aka the Phun Factory. Tonight 5 pointz again becomes the ‘institute of higher burnin.’” The vigil will begin after sunset.
Art critic Jerry Saltz and architecture critic Justin Davidson toured the newly renovated, expanded Queens Museum for New York Magazine. Ultimately, their conversation leans on the harsher side in regards to the new design. We pulled out a few highlights:
On the facade: “I know that artists will be able to program the façade, but really it’s a highbrow billboard begging commuters to pay attention.” “It was never a wonderful building, but it troubles me that the shorthand for a renovation is to slap a layer of glass on the side facing the road and call it new… The other façade, which opens onto the park, is more promising.” “… At least it broadcasts, ‘Hey, come here. We’re big and new and shiny. This could be fun.’ Too bad it couldn’t also be a good-looking building.”
The interior: “Instead of this soaring, double-height atrium, the entire second story could have been used for art or cultural artifacts or whatever the hell this museum might want to install.” “The architects at Grimshaw have tied themselves in knots to express the idea of openness. That means lots of glass, high ceilings, few walls, and plenty of space unencumbered by, you know, art.” “And what’s with that idiotic space-eating twisty staircase? And the obligatory glass-skywalk thing?”
The programming: “I’ve got a lot of faith in Finkelpearl and his curators. In the next couple of weeks, they’ve got some performance restaging the United Nations, which sounds pretty great.”
And on the future: “Something great may unfurl in this next phase at this would-be great ‘art’ museum.”
Tomorrow kicks off the Queens Museum Opening Weekend and Party; the museum debuted its renovated, expanded space to the press last week and now it is celebrating with the public. Here is the full schedule of events, which include an inauguration ceremony, guided fishing trips through Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, open studios and artist performances. The Museum is also debuting five inaugural exhibitions alongside the famous Panorama of the City of New York. All these celebrations conclude a two-year, $69,000,000 renovation that features 50,000 more square feet, extra galleries, studios for resident artists and a new, gorgeous sky-lit atrium.
The Rockaway Artists Alliance is now showing the exhibit Calm, Storm, Rebirth: Artists’ Interpretations of Hurricane Sandy. The Wave writes that “the exhibition traces the experience of Hurricane Sandy through the work of more than 40 artists and more than 100 works of art. The work runs the gamut from painting to sculpture to assemblage, original song lyrics, photography and more.” Visitors can walk through before, during, and after phases of the storm. Earlier this week the Rockaway Artists Alliance hosted a Night of Reflection at the exhibit and more than 100 people attended. Calm, Storm, Rebirth will be on view until November 24th at sTudio 7 Gallery in Fort Tilden.