Having posted a few times on street art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a fellow blogger, Victor Ho, drew my attention to a graffiti project in Long Island City (LIC), Queens called 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. A hop, skip and a jump away from Williamsburg, I was eager to check it out. And so after a quick drive over the Pulaski Bridge that separates Brooklyn from Queens, I was in the area that is LIC.
LIC is not unlike Williamsburg. They are both undergoing gentrification, enjoy full frontal views of Manhattan across the East River, are easily accessible by subway or ferry, and are situated close to major bridges. In this case, the Queensboro Bridge that connects LIC to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. There’s a young professional vibe here though it’s not as tightly knit a neighbourhood, nor as developed (yet) as that which makes up Williamsburg.
Queensboro Bridge linking LIC to Manhattan
Simply dubbed ‘5Pointz’, this 20,000 square foot, empty 5-story factory building is covered from top to bottom in graffiti. The name represents the five boroughs of New York though the building has become a showcase for global graffiti works. Artists from the US and all over the world including Australia, Spain, Canada, Brazil and France have shared their art here. Located under the rambling elevated 7subway line and just off of a major road, Jackson Avenue, this one block long industrial complex is secluded within the confines of the dead-ended Davis Street. In one way, an oxymoron, for the area is far from dead. Today I spotted a film crew, photographers, iphone snapping fans and trucks aplenty in the enclave.
7 Subway Line
5Pointz Building… continues along Davis Street
5Pointz Building… full frontal
- Art continues down the complex on Davis Street
The fate of 5 Pointz is undetermined. Where the website claims that the curator of the outdoor art gallery, Jonathan Cohen, plans to convert the building into a “graffiti museum”, as well as “a school for aspiring aerosol artists, complete with a formalized curriculum that imparts lessons in teamwork, art history, and entrepreneurship in addition to technique”, there has been petitioning against knocking the building down to make room for condos. The building’s owner, John Wolcoff, has expressed interest in building two 30-story high rises to cash in on the migration of renters who cannot afford Manhattan, and has promised a rear wall accessible to graffiti artists in lieu of what may be torn down. Hardly compensation.
An homage to Dali
Marie Flageul, an event planner who is part of the 5Pointz team, recently stated on NYTimes.com, “What the landlord doesn’t understand is that 5Pointz is a brand and an icon, and if he knocks it down it will be missed. 5Pointz is the United Nations of graffiti.”
Ironically, LIC is located directly opposite the United Nations building in Manhattan.
View of the United Nations (left), as seen from LIC’s Water’s Edge dock
If you’re a graffiti artist who may be interested in staking a piece of wall real estate within this “graffiti Mecca”, perhaps the only legal place left in New York for tagging, you’ll need obtain permission from 5Pointz. According to the website:
The most coveted locations are given to accomplished graffiti artists who create high-quality, conceptual work that displays great artistic detail, while the less visible areas are preserved for new and aspiring aerosol artists.
The better the mural, the longer it stays up. Pieces and productions are typically left on display for anywhere from one day to two years, depending on the quality and effort of the work, as well as the pedestrian traffic level of its wall placement. Long-lasting, prominently displayed productions require a rough draft and demonstrate creative vision, a high-level of craft, and originality.
Frogs (mural located opposite 5Pointz building on David Street)
To sign the petition, click here: SHOW UR LOVE TO 5POINTZ
Condos along LIC’s waterfront
Please share your comments below. I’ll be tweeting this page regularly to relevant parties and discussion groups. This will be a way to support 5Pointz in their efforts to save their space.