Artists vs. the World
“I’ve been coming here for years. It’s always been a great place where people will get together for art and peace and positive vibes,” said Rhonda Elhosseiny, gazing up at one of the exuberantly graffitied walls of 5Pointz, the Long Island City warehouse and global graffiti mecca. “But the reason I came today is that we don’t know how much longer it will be up and I wanted to see it again.”
She wasn’t the only one. This past weekend hundreds of visitors, including street art aficionados, hip hop-styled aerosol artists, thickly-accented Queens families, French tourists, Waspy couples pushing strollers and a 20-man crew of middle-aged birthday celebrants all wearing Polo, descended on the 200,000 square foot former factory. They came to take in the bright swirls of spray paint—some so fresh you could still smell the heady tang of chemicals in the air—offer sympathy and pay their last respects to the 5Pointz, which is slated for demolition early next year.
death of culture
The global graffiti mecca known as 5Pointz is no more. Last night, the Wolkoff family, who own the graffiti-covered Long Island City warehouse under the auspices of G&M Realty, sent a team of workers to whitewash over the aerosol art, effectively terminating artists’ long shot bid to save the building from demolition.
Not one to sit at home and knit, Banksy has emerged from his NYPD-encouraged hiatus to tag midtown’s Hustler Club. Read More
Artists vs. the World
We were a bit skeptical last week when Jeannine Chanes, one of two lawyers representing the Queens-based street art collective 5Pointz, told us that her clients had a fighting chance of stopping the demolition the group’s graffiti-emblazoned warehouse headquarters with an obscure arts law. But although Judge Frederic Block declined to issue a hoped-for injunction late last week, he did grant a restraining order that freezes building owner G&M Realty’s demolition preparations—and any further painting—for 10 days, as first reported by the Long Island City Post. And by all appearances, he seems to be taking Ms. Chanes’s somewhat unorthodox arguments seriously.
The Art of Politics
Banksy buzz may be sweeping parts of New York City–including a mention on the cover of the New York Post this morning–but the leading candidate for mayor has no idea who that is.
Bill de Blasio appeared perplexed this morning when asked by a reporter if the famed, pseudonymous British graffiti artist’s latest work in Manhattan should be removed.
Artists vs. the World
For a spray paint-wielding band of graffitists, the Queens street art collective 5Pointz certainly has an impressive nose for obscure legal code. In a frantic effort to remain in their Long Island City warehouse, last week the artists filed a suit in Federal Court against the owner of the warehouse, G&M Realty, citing a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), a rarely-invoked bulwark against the faulty attribution and unauthorized alteration of some types of visual art.
It may be the city’s latest art craze, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg is having none of Bansky.
While the famed, pseudonymous British graffiti artist’s creations often fetch six figures at auctions, the mayor–who has long railed against graffiti–said today his work on city buildings was against the law.
“The permits!” The voice was panicked. “They’re fucking us!”
“Slow down. What’s wrong?”
“They’re revoking our permits.”
This was the call I got eight years ago on the eve of a graffiti block party I was throwing to celebrate the release of my first video game, “Getting Up.” It just happened that this call set in motion a series of events that very few have experienced. I, Marc Eckō, went up against Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City and won.
As the above-ground train rolls past the Court Square stop on the 7 line, a stone’s throw into the heart of Long Island City, passengers are awakened by a defiant cacophony of shapes and colors against a backdrop of the graying and decrepit Queens skyline. There, a red-brick warehouse stands proud, one entirely outfitted in graffiti tags and murals by aerosol artists. Born of a mission to create a legal urban canvas for the criminal art form flaring up in excess throughout the city during the early ’90s, the brainchild of founder Pat DiLillo—then known as “The Phun Phactory”—opened in 1993. In 2002, Jonathan Cohen—an FIT grad who had been tagging since he was 13 and is better known in these parts by his nom de plume Meresone—began curating the work. He soon rechristened the building “5 Pointz,” after the five boroughs of New York City. But it has since branched out and become a cultural mecca of sorts, with pieces by artists from cities such as Paris, Madrid, London and Germany.
On any weekday, while businesses—a clothing factory, storage space for city hotdog vendors and a small non-profit gallery called Local Projects—hum away inside the building, Mr. Cohen can be found in or around the building, monitoring projects and making sure nobody is painting without his permission.
“I’m here every day, I have no life.”
But the 39-year-old Flushing Native may soon be getting his free time back—at the price of his life’s work.
With tongue placed firmly in cheek, New York’s street artist Hanksy has built a career out of poking fun at the self-serious subversives in the gallery graffiti circuit. Even his name is a satirical homage to the British Banksy, with Hanksy being a shortened tag for “Tom Hanksy.”
Picking subjects more pop than political, Hanksy has focused his art on animals and celebrity mash-ups: like the hilarious Ferrell Cats, or the pun-y “Pie Hard” stencil in Bushwick.
If Banksy’s monkeys are telling us, “Laugh now, because one day we’ll be in charge,” than Hanksy’s message might be better summarized as, “Laugh now, because this is funny.”