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.”
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.
This morning, the 5Pointz Twitter feed reports the latest crazy news in the crazy saga of 5Pointz. The building owners Jerry and David Wolkoff painted the building white last night with police protection. Another Tweet notes that the 5Pointz artists almost got arrested. We will update this post with more photos as they become available — after the jump, see another shot of the artwork that’s left on the back wall. If you snap any pictures yourself please send them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The white-out comes after a judge denied the artists a permanent injunction to stop demolition. In response, the artists held a rally this weekend. They planned to form a human chain around the building come demolition day, which is expected before the end of the year.
As this Twitter user says, “All you #7train riders this morning are in for a bleak look as you pass #5pointz this morning. Its now an ugly hospital white.” One more photo after the jump… UPDATE: Many more photos of the paint job in question after the jump, including five photos from one reader’s commute this morning and video taken from the train.
This Saturday, artists rallied to save 5Pointz — right after a judge denied the artists a permanent injunction to stop building demolition. The two-hour event brought hundreds of people to the so-called graffiti mecca. Gothamist attended and said “much of the two-hour Save 5 Pointz Rally felt more like a ‘final, fond farewell’ than an angry political demonstration.” In a last ditch effort the save the building, the artists are petitioning to landmark it. If that doesn’t work they plan to form a human-chain around 5Pointz to block the bulldozers come demolition day. Jerry and David Wolkoff plan to demolish the building by the end of the year.
In response to the news that a judge denied the 5Pointz artists a permanent injunction to stop demolition of the graffiti mecca, the artists are planning a rally this weekend. The above Tweet popped up earlier today; the 5Pointz brass later clarified that the rally will begin at 3pm on Saturday at the loading dock. They also asked participants to “come in peace.” This will definitely be an intense event, given that the artists have seemingly run out of legal measures to save the warehouse from the wrecking ball.
Yesterday Federal Judge Frederic Block officially denied the 5Pointz artists a permanent injunction to stop demolition, after indicating as much earlier this week. The New York Daily News reports that the “lawyer for building owners Jerry Wolkoff and his son David argued that they stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits and other benefits if the project is not completed in the allotted period of time.” And while the judge expressed sympathy for the artists and respect for the work, he decided he couldn’t legally protect it under the VARA act, a federal law that allows for preservation of certain public artwork. He suggested the artists try to landmark the graffiti warehouse, but Landmarks already denied an application to do so. The Wolkoffs still plan to demo the building by the end of this year.
Despite a judge issuing a restraining order to hold off demolition at 5Pointz, it looks like the graffiti mecca will not be saved. The Daily News reports that on Friday, Federal Judge Frederic Block stated he couldn’t grant an injunction to prevent the demolition of the building, despite respecting the artwork on it. As he told the court, “I love the work and it’s going to tear my heart out to see it torn down, but as a judge I have to apply the law. I can’t grant the injunction.” The judge said that the building owners, Jerry and David Wolkoff, have a legal right to develop the property despite the artwork on it. The 5Pointz artists filed the lawsuit on the grounds of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, a law that protects recognized artwork that is incorporated into a building.
The judge recommended that the artists apply the building for landmark status, but Landmarks already rejected an application this August. The lawyer for the 5Pointz plaintiffs, Jeannine Chanes, is looking into filing a new application with Landmarks. 5Pointz artist Jonathan (Meres) Cohen told the News that “‘Giving up’ are not words in my vocabulary.” The Wolkoffs, on the other hand, want to demolish the building by next month.
Here’s another small victory for 5Pointz artists: the judge added another 14 days to the existing restraining order against building owners G&M Realty. This comes after the judge granted a 10 day restraining order due to the artists filing a federal court lawsuit against G&M. So for now the building is protected from demolition until November 12th. According to LIC Post, “The judge, Frederic Block, also called for a hearing as a means to determine whether he should issue a preliminary injunction. A preliminary injunction, if granted, would stop Wolkoff from demolishing the building until the lawsuit was resolved, which could take well over a year.”
The artists filed the lawsuit under the Visual Artists Rights Act, which gives certain visual artists the right to claim ownership of a work on a building. Wolkoff’s attorneys, on the other hand, are arguing that the grafitti artists always knew the building was going to be demolished, leaving little reason to believe the art would remain permanently up.