Once a blank warehouse turned graffiti canvas which contained some truly inspiring and creative murals has once again become blank.
From the deceased Hip-Hop Rapper Biggie Smalls to other figures of popular culture to political drawings, the renowned graffiti haven known as 5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin’ or the 5 Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. has seemingly died after it was whitewashed after a long battle to stay open.
Back in August, the New York City Planning Commission unanimously voted for the approval of plans to tear 5 Pointz down and build high-end condos in its place. However, the disposal of 30 years’ worth of New York City art history attracted protests and rallies in support of trying to save the building. But the rallies proved nothing.
The condos are said to be residential towers with affordable housing and retail spaces. In October, the New York City Council approved of the $400 million plan. The supposed building will contain 1,000 apartment units. Within the apartment complex itself, a total of 210 units are said to be affordable housing.
The building owners, Jeff and David Wolkoff plan on having the building demolished by the end of 2013 so that construction on this project may begin in the New Year.
Prior to the whitewashing incident, Curator of 5Pointz Jonathan Cohan also known as Meres One and numerous supporters had tried to save the building to no avail. A week ago, Meres failed to obtain a court injunction that would help stall the destruction of the building that too many is considered an artistic landmark for the city.
According to Vanishing New York, the whitewashing defacement of the building was an attempt by building owners to prevent any more efforts by the supporters of 5 Pointz to save it.
If you don’t take the 7 train, or happen to not notice it, the social media website known as Twitter was abuzz with the news.
On their own Twitter page, 5 Pointz @5PointzNYC tweeted: “5 pointz is gone, painted white overnight by the owner…with police protection.”
The whitewashing of 5 Pointz is hard to notice, especially in the city that is reported to have citizens who do not pay as much attention as they do. Taking to Twitter, New Yorkers also expressed their outrage about what has happened.
Natasha Tendai @NatashaTendai tweets: “This hurts so much!!! Graffiti mecca 5 Pointz repainted white in Queens.”
Edmin De Los Santos @HablameLatiNo responded with a tweet stating: “Sad day for Art. @5PointzNYC: I repeat 5 pointz is gone. Painted white overnight we almost got arrested.”
And Christopher Smith @infinitewords14 sums up the disappointment shared by many people coming out against the whitewash stating: “5 Pointz being whitewashed…not even torn down yet-is a middle finger by the owners to all of its supporters. Make no mistake about it.”
Graffiti has both its pros and cons. To some graffiti is not an art form, but a mere assault on the eyes because of its “imposition” on the surface in-which it stands. Since it is not constrained to a canvas upon an easel or paper within a notebook, graffiti upon a wall signifies an old stereotype of a shattered, or broken, neighborhood.
In the late 70s and early 80s, graffiti imploded within New York City. Mostly used to destroy and show as a form of vandalism, graffiti has grown from that. In Roman history, graffiti was used by Romans to publicly shame political figures for abusing their power. Graffiti now does the same, but some do not see it as that because they are constricted by the experience of the past.
5 Pointz wasn’t a place that promoted vandalism.
5 Pointz was a place that allowed graffiti artists to come together, share their works, interact with admirers, and simply express themselves without having to endure any form of condemnation for their mode of expression.
Now it is blotchy white-spotted building that has become an eyesore.
The Wolkoff brothers’ plan to build condos, with affordable housing, within a cultural neighborhood is a tad bit contradicting.
First, the removal of one of the largest cultural attractions of Long Island City defeats the intention of building an apartment complex in an environment enriched with culture. What this says is that certain culture is permitted, while others are not and are removed no matter the argument.
Second, the condo plans to have affordable housing is noble however out of 1,000 units only 200-or-so are listed as affordable, but to whom?
Will the affordable housing be available to the hundreds of New Yorkers who cannot afford housing in areas that contain families in poverty?
Will these units aim help to break the cycle of poverty?
If so, why not open up more units for affordable housing.
The owners’ action leads to the questioning of their true motives. To resort to using the secrecy of night to whitewash a building that is heavily being fought for, by a majority of this city’s citizens, so that it may be saved suggest that the interest of the people is not being tended to due to their clandestine actions.
The proposed development does not seem to be aimed at enriching the lives of the people, but to fatten the pockets of the owners and those who hold investments in its construction.
One of this city’s finest examples of art died, and the people who fought to keep it alive never had to the chance to say goodbye.