5Pointz: Exploring the Endangered ‘Graffiti Mecca’

QUEENS, NY—MoMA PS1 in Long Island City is a brilliant space where contemporary art is presented in a renovated brick school building. Just across the street stands 5Pointz, a mecca for graffiti, that serves as the perfect complement to the art center (in an opposites attract sense). A sprawling old factory building that once housed artist’s studios (other businesses, including one that involves hot dog vending carts, continue to operate in the space), 5Pointz draws artists from across the globe who paint murals on the building’s exterior with the permission of Jerry Wolkoff, the owner of the property. For more than a decade, 5Pointz has been such a high-profile perch for street artists that it has become a tourist attraction and destination for museum-goers who wander across the street after visiting PS1.

In a New York Times article last year, Marie Flageul, identified as an event planner who is part of a 10-member crew that serves as “docents” at 5Pointz, called the 200,000-square-foot warehouse property “the United Nations of graffiti.” The Times report was about the imminent demise of the ever-changing canvas. Wolkoff intends to build two residential towers on the property in 2013. The latest news came in June when he presented the development plans at a Community Board meeting. Until they shut it down, the spray can diplomacy continues.

5Pointz is at 45-46 Davis Street on the corner of Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.

All photos © Arts Observer

Flushing artist Jonathan Cohen has acted as curator of the site since 2001, managing mural installations which are painted by permit only and authorization for commercial photography and video shoots.

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