5 Pointz – Graffiti Art Gallery in Long Island City, Queens, NY

Because I have posted on street art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a fellow blogger, Victor Ho, drew my attention to a graffiti project in Long Island City (LIC), Queens called 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. From Williamsburg, it’s a quick drive over the Pulaski Bridge to LIC.

in some ways, LIC is similar to Williamsburg. Both neighbourhoods are both undergoing gentrification, enjoy view of Manhattan and the East River, are easily accessible by subway or ferry, and are situated close to major bridges — the Queensboro Bridge connects LIC to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. the area has attracted a young professional crowd though the  feeling of community doesn’t permeate as much as it does in Williamsburg.

Queensboro Bridge linking LIC to Manhattan

Dubbed ‘5Pointz’, this empty, 20,000-square-foot, five-story factory building is covered from top to bottom in graffiti. The name, 5Pointz, represents the five boroughs of New York, although the building is showcase global graffiti works by artists from Australia, Spain, Canada, Brazil, and France as well. Located under the rambling elevated 7-subway line, this one block long industrial complex continues until the Davis Street’s dead end. Today, the enclave was far from dead, which was filled with film crew, photographers, iphone-toting fans and trucks.

7 Subway Line

5Pointz Building…

5Pointz Building… continues along Davis Street

5Pointz Building… full frontal

Art continues down the complex on Davis Street

Unfortunately, 5 Pointz faces an undetermined fate. The graffiti art curator, Jonathan Cohen, plans to convert the building into a “graffiti museum”, as well as “a school for aspiring aerosol artists, complete with a formalized curriculum that imparts lessons in teamwork, art history, and entrepreneurship in addition to technique”, yet there are rumours that the building will be knocked down to make room for condos. The building’s owner, John Wolcoff, has expressed interest in building two 30-story high rises to cash in on renters escaping expensive Manhattan, and has promised a rear wall accessible to graffiti artists in lieu of what may be torn down. Hardly compensation.

An homage to Dali

Marie Flageul, an event planner who is part of the 5Pointz team, recently stated on NYTimes.com, “What the landlord doesn’t understand is that 5Pointz is a brand and an icon, and if he knocks it down it will be missed. 5Pointz is the United Nations of graffiti.”

Ironically, LIC is located directly opposite the United Nations building in Manhattan.

View of the United Nations (left), as seen from LIC’s Water’s Edge dock

If you’re a graffiti artist and are interested in staking a piece of real estate within this “graffiti Mecca”, perhaps the only legal place left to tag in New York, you’ll need to obtain permission from 5Pointz. According to the website:

The most coveted locations are given to accomplished graffiti artists who create high-quality, conceptual work that displays great artistic detail, while the less visible areas are preserved for new and aspiring aerosol artists.

The better the mural, the longer it stays up. Pieces and productions are typically left on display for anywhere from one day to two years, depending on the quality and effort of the work, as well as the pedestrian traffic level of its wall placement. Long-lasting, prominently displayed productions require a rough draft and demonstrate creative vision, a high-level of craft, and originality.

Frogs (mural located opposite 5Pointz building on David Street)

To sign the petition, click here: SHOW UR LOVE TO 5POINTZ

Condos along LIC’s waterfront

Please share your comments below. I’ll be tweeting this page regularly to relevant parties and discussion groups. This will be a way to support 5Pointz in their efforts to save their space.

Grimace…

5Pointz – Close Up

32 thoughts on “5 Pointz – Graffiti Art Gallery in Long Island City, Queens, NY

  1. Marina
    Great post. You have captured the essence of the location in your images. Historically everything changes. The US is a little more than 235 years old since independence. Unlike Europe we have very few buildings left since that time. NYC is a city of change and reinvention. Sadly, neighborhoods are being changed constantly. You might want to get to the Lower Eastside and the Bowery. The Bowery is in change. The Lower Eastside has a museum dedicated to the tenements that were once there. The same can be said for Williamsburg. It is a neighborhood in transition. What was there twenty years ago is far different from today. I’m glad you got to 5Pointz.
    Here are some references. The first is said to be in Brooklyn. It is not a site that is welcoming to the casual tourist.
    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/10/29/arts/design/20101101-underbelly-ss.html
    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/secret-underground-art-show-thrills-new-york-2133767.html
    http://undergroundhip-hop.net/graffiti/

  2. Such fantastic graffiti – I love it. If you’re ever in France try to visit Angouleme which is the comic book capital of France. The French love bandes dessinees and even the ancient buildings of Angouleme have full size French comic characters painted on them – they look very cool on the elegant old buildings.

  3. I have also looked at the Williamsburg decorative art, graffiti, street art. Doesn’t matter, art it is. What always fascinates me is the quality of the art. Where do people get the time to do it. Much of it done at night in low light conditions. Don’t they sleep? I think it is more than the art, also a way of living.
    Look at the faces on this page. Extremely well done. Lettering – how do they plan, or do they have great instincts – the artists, that is. Take a brush and start to write ‘watermelon’ and I bet your letters at the end will be smaller than at first (lack of planning). Yet, these guys can make 2 meter high letters perfectly fit the space and match each other. At night. Before the blue lights bite.

    And it is fun.

    • Hi Louis! Thanks for your comment. The graffiti here is actually done at all times of the day. It is meant to be a place where artists can enjoy doing what they do best. If one wants to show off his work, they can write it to the 5 Pointz team and have a spot designated. Hopefully the building will be standing up long enough for many more to enjoy seeing it. A link to the petition is in the post 🙂

  4. Awesome – unfortunately money seems to rule the world at the moment which means it will have to be a tough fight to keep this art monument alive.

    Maybe NY should make it a tourist attraction promoting it as culture (which it is)

    Great post! keep ’em coming
    🙂

    • HI! Yes, I agree that sometimes money gets in the way. I am not sure of the building’s fate though I will share any news as I hear it. I stumbled across more street art in Brooklyn yesterday. It’s very fun to live in a neighbourhood that allows you that experience. It’s never groundhog day 🙂 Thank you so much for your comment 🙂

  5. Really great post! Love the composition of the last picture “5 POINTZ”. Super!

    It’s amazing how talented people there are out there that just want to use it. It’s sad that we can’t use all this creativity in more ways.

    Thanks for the post on a really interesting subject

    • Thanks Pedro – that was one of my first outings with the Nikon 🙂 I was adjusting for light, focus etc. I appreciate your compliment about the last photo! Re: the fate of the building – I hope it continues standing as a space for artistic works. It’s likely a very good thing for the community in the long run and I hope that this has been acknowledged in final decisions. Thanks for reading!

  6. The 5Pointz project is interesting. There are also areas of Melbourne where graffiti art is legal (and encouraged) making them outdoor gallery spaces – Hosier Lane being one of them. Great set of photos by the way.

    • Hi! Thank you for your comment. I need to get to Melbourne to check it out again – I haven’t been for a number of years. Thanks for the suggestion. And thank you for the compliment about the photos!

  7. Thanks for sending me the link to this. I really hope it doesn’t get demolished. I know graffiti has negative connotations for a lot of people, but I think it’s awesome to see a splash of creativity and color on otherwise gloomy buildings. And to have a place to do it legally like Leake Street in London is awesome. I think every big city should have a designated graffiti area 🙂

    • I just received your message – it was in my spam. I agree with you about every city needing a designated graffiti area. I am sure it would foster a better community spirit too. I’ll keep you posed on 5 Pointz. Until then, thanks for sharing the Leake Street scenes!

  8. Pingback: Gratifying graffiti art of Fitzroy | Skybambi's Blog

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