Skip to main content

You have probably already heard the sorry vandalism story about how the United Nations of Graffiti came to an end. The NYT offered several points of view in Night Falls, and 5Pointz, a Graffiti Mecca, Is Whited Out in Queens.

Treebeard is that you?

Also know as "The Institute for Higher Burnin'" and originally established in 1993 as a program called "Graffiti Terminators to Discourage Graffiti Vandalism" the 200,000-square-foot factory building was also a place where around 200 artists paid below market rents for studio space. In the view below from the 7 train before the whiteout, note the sleeping woman with the rainbow glove by Dasic.

5Pointz from the 7 Train

It is a tragic story in that 5Pointz was unique in this world. The name was given because it was originally thought to attract artist from all five boroughs but instead it became a world art center. The building attracted spray artist from all over the world and it became a constantly evolving tribute to a still misunderstood form of art.

The Institute of Higher Burnin'

In many ways the tragedy reads like the great American success story. Jerry Wolkoff purchased a dilapidated building in an industrial neighborhood that had seen better days. He got friendly with struggling artist for the meager income and once gentrification came into play, the man allied himself with real estate developers to get much richer.  

Jaws 5

In a perfect world another rich person would have come to the rescue and 5Pointz would have become the "World Museum of Graffiti." There was no rich savior and the efforts of artist and supporters to get government involved was hopeless from the beginning. The only reason New York City has a Grand Central Terminal is that the descendants of Cornelius Vanderbilt thought that news photos of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis chaining herself to the bulldozer would have been bad for public relations.

I Don't Always Think in Color...

But there was no such luck, so early yesterday morning, after going through all of the zoning hurdles and winning all of the court battles, Jerry Wolkoff, who is still the owner of the building had a bunch of workers show up at 1 AM to whitewash away all of that art, 1,500 works of art according to one artist.  

Aerosol Art in Flames

It was totally within the rights of the owner, who is going to convert 5Pointz into luxury condominiums that as a last gesture of good will the man vandalized his own building.

Reckin' Krew

He said the whitewash was to spare artist the pain of watching those masterpieces disappear brick by brick.

Monsieur Plume at 5Pointz

I've had the pleasure of meeting with and learning from many of these artist over the summer, even the occasional assist ;-)

Footin' the ladder for Dede

I've spoken several times with Jonathan Cohen, who is known as Meres One in the graffiti world and has been the curator of 5pointz since 2002. His art is very impressive.

Meres and his Imagination

I'm sure there are many hard feelings after the whiteout. Jonathan Cohen posed for this photo a while back.

Meres - The Mayor of 5Pointz

But to me the owner dosen't seem like such a bad guy and this dosen't feel like an ending. On the bright side, Jerry Wolkoff spent twenty years helping to educate people like myself and many others as to the value of Aerosol Art. The history of 5Pointz left a mark.

40 Years of Hip Hop

Jerry Wolkoff played a part in elevating graffiti from vandalism to to an acceptable form of art. Some of the younger artist I met out there this year had never once broken the law to express themselves.

Have you ever been experienced?

I think the photo below demonstrates the advancement of graffiti in these past twenty years. Graffiti has been transformed from a label for writers who vandalize to a mother and child day at an outdoor museum.

Upper West Stroller Gang

Graffiti has become a tourist attraction.

Shiro's Art at 5Pointz

This is no longer vandalism.

Fumeroism at 5Pointz

This is art.

Art - Spray Paint on Brick

5Pointz was the first Graffiti Mecca but I have no doubt that it won't be the last. Just like French Impressionism, that was met with harsh opposition from the conventional art community, Aerosol Art has gotten through the early days and the necessity for historians, a home and curators is obvious to many. The tragedy, from my point of view is if the next Graffiti Mecca is not in New York. So I have a bright idea.

Meres Has Bright Ideas

More like a pipe dream from a coalition of one but I'll write in anyway. This week the city council was presented with plans from developers to transform the Fulton Fish Market into a high rise hotel. Now unlike Jerry Wolkoff who is developing private property, this is public property. Since it was once a public square, taking it out of the hands of the people is like telling developers "Sure, put a hotel in Central Park."

So here is this building in Manhattan, not pretty but in better shape than 5Pointz and almost perfect for the development of a graffiti museum. Just about any underused municipal property could make a replacement for 5Pointz but the Fulton Fish Market and its rich history as a public place would be perfect. Just clean the garbage out of the inside and get painting. Eventually the moneyed few will get involved and the site would be developed to a real museum.    

Of course it would be great to still have a place in NYC where there is a worldwide graffiti artist community and a place for them to exchange ideas. But that will never happen so I’m going to miss Aerosol Art calling New York City “Home.”

5Pointz at Sunset

This was my final view of 5Pointz -

5 Pointz - October 26, 2013

Hopefully I'll see it reborn in New York City.

Originally posted to Eddie C on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:30 PM PST.

Also republished by Shutterbugs, Pink Clubhouse, Kitchen Table Kibitzing, New York City, Camera, and Photography.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

mickey, paradox, CJB, Trix, Bill in Portland Maine, jotter, teacherken, mndan, m maddog, cotterperson, Jay C, rubyr, HootieMcBoob, TheMomCat, missLotus, Wee Mama, whenwego, undercovercalico, Agathena, CalNM, vmibran, Aquarius40, roses, javelina, high uintas, wader, TexDem, cosette, churchylafemme, Steven Payne, hoof32, zerelda, ybruti, side pocket, Steven D, jcrit, murrayewv, weelzup, nailbender, Bluesee, NoMoreLies, blueyedace2, Shrew in Shrewsbury, Simplify, basquebob, Laurence Lewis, ratzo, grog, Pam from Calif, Sun Tzu, Burned, lotlizard, Ekaterin, fhcec, begone, Nowhere Man, poco, vigilant meerkat, tobendaro, mr crabby, bastrop, cookseytalbott, koNko, Audri, dougymi, Naniboujou, Wednesday Bizzare, triv33, 4Freedom, Ooooh, Rosaura, Crashing Vor, el cid, middleagedhousewife, Turbonerd, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, blueoregon, bstotts, Friend of the court, cpresley, old wobbly, BeninSC, Cronesense, Positronicus, aravir, FishOutofWater, Mary Mike, operculum, dclawyer06, sfbob, aliasalias, jnhobbs, gchaucer2, rovertheoctopus, carpunder, CT Hank, leonard145b, gizmo59, MKinTN, thankgodforairamerica, mconvente, JeffW, NotGeorgeWill, wayoutinthestix, Marko the Werelynx, poligirl, OleHippieChick, Sixty Something, Youffraita, Senor Unoball, skohayes, Laughing Vergil, here4tehbeer, geomoo, TokenLiberal, Missys Brother, No Exit, Liberal Of Limeyland, mattc129, LaEscapee, BYw, priceman, palantir, shortgirl, jlms qkw, ZhenRen, not a cent, An Affirming Flame, Carol in San Antonio, maryabein, RageKage, geebeebee, UnaSpenser, brooklynliberal, Denise Oliver Velez, moviemeister76, sfarkash, astral66, Larsstephens, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, oceanrain, serendipityisabitch, kjoftherock, janis b, Simple, renzo capetti, Eddie L, teklanika, gulfgal98, samanthab, pixxer, Funkygal, Publius2008, ericlewis0, nosleep4u, slice, Wisdumb, translatorpro, TAH from SLC, kerflooey, allenjo, slowbutsure, Susipsych, asterkitty, fisher1028, sallym, marleycat, badscience, tardis10, worldlotus, enhydra lutris, Safina, PhilJD, jolux, weisja4, YaNevaNo, quill, fenway49, isabelle hayes, IndieGuy, AnnieR, 420 forever, congenitalefty, belinda ridgewood, doroma, Glen The Plumber, Spirit of Life, Marjmar, Hammerhand, Foothills of Oblivion, jusjtim35, koosah, remembrance, broths, SixSixSix, HedwigKos, Yo Bubba, Aunt Pat, itzadryheat, duhban, OceanDiver, Ellen Columbo, TheDuckManCometh, The Marti, Orangetime, karma5230, El Bloguero, Darwinian Detritus, kkkkate, santas, bonnybedlam, kosmargaret, sunsetdrive

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site