Sunday, July 10, 2011

Will the Growth Machine Destroy New York City’s Famous Street Art Mecca?

Posted by Angie Luvara, LONG ISLAND CITY, NY -- Every time I go to New York City, I make a point to visit my favorite place in all the boroughs—5Pointz. 5Pointz is located in Long Island City – a part of Queens closest to Manhattan. There, a 200,000 square foot abandoned warehouse building stands covered with art, and taking up an entire city block.  Some might call this art annoying graffiti. Yet it’s not the scribbles and gang symbols that cover many abandoned buildings – it is instead beautiful, colorful street art murals. Not only are these murals some of the most amazing I’ve ever seen, but they’re constantly changing. Every time I visit it’s like seeing a new street art museum exhibit. Every single inch of the place is covered in layers of spray paint—even the columns supporting the trains passing overhead, the trash bins, and the orange traffic cones! Unfortunately, 5Pointz is in danger of being gobbled up by greedy private real estate interests.  If this growth machine wins, the beautiful art covering the old warehouse will be gone forever.
Graffiti artist Meres One began transforming the old warehouse in 2001, after it had been abandoned for about a year. Over the next five years, he turned the building into an outdoor art gallery. Artists must obtain permission to paint, which is how 5Pointz maintains such high quality street art on its walls. More prominent spaces are reserved for accomplished street artists, and less accessible spaces are offered to newer artists to hone their craft. Artists from all over the United States and the world have painted here, and pieces stay up from one day to two years, depending on the quality of the work.
But Meres One’s goals for 5Pointz—to create an international graffiti museum and school for aspiring street artists—may be thwarted by a local developer’s plans to convert the old warehouse building into a high-rise residential tower and luxury shopping mall. Since this announcement last March support for 5Pointz has flourished. Supporters have signed petitions and made videos and other projects in support of maintaining the street art Mecca. The very thought of this amazing, one-of-a-kind masterpiece being razed to put up cookie cutter condos makes me sick to my stomach. To learn more about 5Pointz visit their website and to sign the petition to save 5Pointz click here.

Angie Luvara is a photographer and Managing Editor of Social Shutter. Next month she will begin the Sociology Doctoral Program at Georgia State University where she will pursue her interests in the visual study of social issues. You can view more of her work at

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to seeing what you did with the shutters.Quality shutters are durable but you still need to be gentle with them.I love this shutter also.But I probably would never be allowed to install.
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