“Life is Art.”Inked in pink,black and orange on a metal garbage collection bin – a message for all to see.
It becomes even clearer as you observe King Kong, Biggie Smalls, a gothic city, giant size fishes and cartoon like characters in technicolor, on concrete. Yes, public art, in a private space.
Stretching an entire block and five stories high, the scale of this street art hits you like a slap in the face. Three hundred and fifty murals on 200,000 square foot. Whatever you think of street art, 5Pointz puts it into perspective.
Converted in 1993 to an unofficial museum of aerosol art, a factory building from the 1930s became 5Pointz. 5Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burning, in Long Island City, is managed by the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center Inc. Yes, the same 5Pointz currently in Federal District Court; that owner Gerald Walkoff and his firm G&M Realty plans demolish the 5Pointz building to built a one-thousant unit luxury apartment complex and sixteen artists have sued to protect their street art from the demolition men.
“It bothers me, because I came to this place over a long time,”
Graffiti Artist Tony Martinez told me at 5Pointz.
Before becoming an artist Martinez hung out at 5Pointz and learned the details of the art.
Martinez is among the 50 to 100 graffiti artists and taggers that paint on weekends. (Each painter must get permission from 5Pointz to paint.) These have included famous taggers like Onur Dinc,Stay High 168, Copez, Part, and Tats Cru. Famed British griffiti artist Banksy on October 31st, ended his month long street art show, with a call to save 5Pointz. Due to the ongoing legal dispute all paintings has to stop through November 12 (the next hearing is November 6).
As tourist eagerly take keepsake photos, the importance of it all and the history, dawns on you. 5Pointz gave many taggers a home to express themselves and their art.
Graffiti enthusiast and media big brother (choosing to remain anonymous) told me that pulling down 5Pointz is like:
“removing a creative environment for people… to enjoy the brilliance of the artists.”
And he will know, having observed graffiti art around the world. “I think this graffiti art is equal to all the great graffiti artist or taggers.” Tourist at 5Pointz also say that the art at the center itself, is more diverse. British tourist, Carl Lavia, told me,
“I have seen some of the graffiti on bridges, but this is just like… it is art and it shows the diversity, the breath, of what New York artists are doing.”
Media big brother is concerned about where aerosol artists will paint if 5Pointz is torn down and he is not the only one. “I will go back to the streets – unfortunately.” said Tony Martinez
Whether 5Pointz will be saved or not, what is clear is that urban art lies in the balance.
By Nicosia Smith