The Court Square Blog snapped the above photo of demolition starting at the former 5Pointz warehouse. According to CSB, “In the past week, we’ve seen asbestos abatement crews working around the construction site. It is the first major movement we’ve seen on these buildings since Wolkoff’s decision to whitewash the art back in mid-November.” Demolition was expected to begin late last year or early 2014, so work is slightly delayed. The warehouse, of course, will be replaced with two condo towers.
Over the weekend the New York Daily News tallied up all the mega developments slated for Queens. These planned high rises will dramatically change the Queens skyline over the next 20 years. Here’s the breakdown of what’s to come:
Thanks to the Court Square Blog for a heads up about an upcoming 5Pointz art show. On January 19th, 5Pointz will host a show at the Gold Coast Art Center in Great Neck featuring the artists Meres One, Zimad, See TF and Kid Lew and John Paul. It’s curated by the director for the Gold Coast Art Center, Jude Amsel. The event is free and also includes a cocktail reception. It’ll be held from 3 pm to 5 pm at 113 Middle Neck Road.
Over the weekend Gothamist caught a bizarre Tweet issued by Jolly Rancher: the above photo, with the caption “5 Pointz untamed.” It’s thoroughly unclear to us what Jolly Rancher is trying to say about the whitewashing of 5Pointz, but it appears to be a copy of this much better advertisement/tribute. The 5Pointz folks, for one, were unhappy with the shout out. They put out this Tweet on Saturday: “such a disgrace 2 months after it happened trying to copy a cool absolut tribute wooooaaaaaw so bad.” Jolly Rancher ultimately deleted the Tweet yesterday, saying “We apologize for our tweet re: @5PointzNYC. We meant no disrespect to the area or artists. The tweet has been deleted.”
The 5Pointz story has been all over the web for the last few weeks, including here at Brownstoner Queens, and it is just sad that the structure has already been stripped of the graffiti artwork which once made it remarkable.
I guess it’s the way of things, here in New York City, and the 1892 vintage factory will be excised in the near future. Observationally, it was the single largest “draw” in LIC for foreign tourists (and even jaded New Yorkers) and it will be missed. A composition of saturated color that brightened the urban landscape, which incurred reflection in viewers, is always appreciated.
Once upon a time though, specifically before the Second World War, there was no color and the entire world was black and white. Rising out of this monotone landscape was the Neptune Meter Company of Long Island City.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
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.