5Pointz: You may never have heard of it, and that's ok. Well, it's not really ok, but graffiti artists are a culture unto their own and your approval was never needed. Like my man Iam Tmnk said: "My rebellious markers and aerosol cans neither seek nor require your permission nor recognition. Defiantly I am leaving a mark on the world." Somewhere between the birth of Philly hand styles and the inclusion of Banksy in an actual, real life, national museum, graffiti got kinda big. And the center of it all has (to my chagrin as an LA native) been New York. And in New York there is a place with hallowed, hollow halls and brilliance painted everywhere. This is 5Pointz.
"5Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin' or the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. is an outdoor art exhibit space in Long Island City, New York, considered to be the world’s premiere 'graffiti Mecca,'" says Wikipedia. One good thing about graffiti writers though: we never needed someone to do our writing for use. 5Ptz.com says of itself, "The name 5Pointz signifies the five boroughs coming together as one but, because of its reputation as an epicenter of the graffiti scene, the industrial complex has actually united aerosol artists from across the world." Global, baby.
Previously (and I presume for the time being) you could stop by to paint with legends, get a tour and art demo, or simply admire what the greatest spray paint minds of our generation have to offer. No matter where you start, from what skill level or continent, from what art background or destination, if you paint graffiti you gotta get to 5Pointz. It's kind of a big deal. It's so awesome, it has 4.5 stars on Yelp. You know why? Respect.
But neoliberalism marches on, community and cultural spaces being torn down and buried beneath the magnificent monstrosities of progress, the brilliant behemoths of civilization ... 5Pointz no exception. The owners want to tear down what took generations to build up, in order to provide luxury residences to rich folks. Gentrification, anyone? Maybe they'll call it Williamsburg Duece.
Fortunately, while "G & M Realty intends to demolish the internationally known 5Pointz and build two residential high-rises in Long Island City ... it needs a zoning change to do it." This is why I am hopeful that this memorial is premature. We're not quite writing obituaries yet. New York, and indeed the world, has an opportunity to push back against the murder of our writers' walls. Marie Flageul, a spokeswoman for the artist-run “aerosol art Center,” said of the possible closing, “I hope New Yorkers wake up for once and take arms now instead of mourn later.” I'd say New Yorkers wake up a lot; I just hope they wake to to this. And speaking of mourning...
At About.com, John Roleke writes, "5Pointz is a living collage of graffiti art covering a converted warehouse full of artist studios." 5Pointz is world-renowned, so much so that artists from all over the world have come to leave their mark, and has been spotlighted in a myriad of global news publications, including the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and New York Times.
Add my hopeful memorial to that list. RIP? Let's hope not.
Thoughts? Concerns? Get at me on TwitterLandia: @johnathendd