7 Points on 5 Pointz: Remembering the Graffiti Haven
With 5 Pointz erased over night, we reached out to seven graffiti players to weigh in on the buffing of the legendary sight.
The 5 Pointz Wikipedia page has already changed its descriptor from “is” to “was.” The “Institute for Higher Burning” housed graffiti’s Hall of Fame, a temple and tourist attraction for graffiti artists and enthusiasts, welcomed visitors from around the globe through its bombed doors since ‘93.
Overnight, the 5 Pointz collection of murals and pieces were painted over in preparation for the building’s demolition. And while most writers might say that any piece that lasts over 48 hours in New York is a win, this buff felt different.
Within the graffiti community, the closing of 5 Pointz certainly marks the end of an era. Seven members of that community – from a former head of the Vandal Squad, to bombers and historians alike – took the time to weigh in on just what this milestone means.
Either way, 5 Pointz was and IS an important pillar of graffiti and New York culture. We salute you for all of your contributions and for providing a canvas upon which the world expressed themselves.
“I actually find it very sad. Throughout my career I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with 5 Pointz, ‘hate’ for a few reasons, but once I retired I actually think I came to appreciate it and its importance in the sub culture, more. I find no joy in its demise, nor the ugly monstrosity that will no doubt replace it.” – Steve Mona, Former Head of the NYPD Vandal Squad
“The loss of 5 Pointz is a terrible loss for the artistic community in New York City. Writers from all over New York City and around the world have had a safe haven to paint in Queens at 5 Pointz for almost two decades and its loss is almost incalculable. There is no other place quite like it in New York City – a living graffiti art park/gallery where you could stumble upon the art of some of the city’s best style writers like Meres, Zimad, Wane, and others.
Other cities around the world have similar places designated as a cultural areas or free art zones – Bagnolet, Copenhagen, Munich, and Helsinki to name a few. These areas allow writers to paint without the need to deal with police or hunt for their own spaces. It’s convenient and safe and others in the community can appreciate it. New Yorkers seemed to love 5 Pointz and perhaps someone will step up and provide a new location for the concept. If not, writers will most certainly create a new space but it might not be legal or necessarily a tourist destination where everyone can celebrate New York’s contribution to writing culture.
“Perhaps its time for the city to pony up a permanent space for writers to paint? Will someone please call Mayor-elect de Blasio? Bloomberg and his developer friendly minions have gobbled up another piece of New York City.” – Alan Ket, Artist and Writer
“It’s a shame that we will be losing 5 Pointz. It was one place where artists could display their work legally in a ‘public gallery.’ There are a ton of dilapidated parks and buildings in all of the boroughs that could be used as art space for the community where kids could go and express their creativity. Graffiti, which was born in NYC, is a vibrant American art form that is respected globally and should be celebrated by our city and not looked at in a negative way. 5 Pointz was the perfect example of someone trying to do something positive.” – Kaves, Artist
“A lot has already been said about this place and whether you like it or not really doesn’t matter anymore, as they are for sure going to turn this property into condos. That being said, within this re-development plan the new property owners stated that they will allocate (approximately) 12 thousand square feet for artist space, walls, galleries, etc. If they keep to their word, then maybe this could be a new beginning with a nicer (yet smaller) space that could have even more organized programming. It has always been my thought to partner with P.S.1 across the street and make 5 Pointz more official under the MoMa umbrella. It’s already a destination for art so it would be a shame to waste this potential opportunity while the spotlight is on…or at the very least start the conversation.” – Sp.One, Artist
“Why they buffed it is very puzzling, and seems like a lost opportunity to preserve some amazing pieces of irreplaceable memorial art (as I understood that the upper regions of the building were reserved for pieces dedicated to fallen writers). But…
A very important fact to remember is that in the world’s first city to wage all-out war on aerosol art, 5 Pointz stood tall as a trusted and diplomatic safe haven for an international community of artists who chose to express themselves legally on the cultural battlefield known as NYC.
The suchness of this unique environment served as the perfect breeding ground for the members of a movement to exchange ideas and knowledge in a special way that couldn’t have happened anywhere else. From the sounds of ‘70s slang spit over the screech of the 7 train on an epic ‘Old Timer’s Day,’ to the smell of the latest indie spray paint brand permeating the air on any given day, the depths of 5 Pointz legacy won’t truly be revealed until the dust of its fallen rubble is finally cleared, and the haunting words of Joni Mitchell ‘that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone’ echoes through the collective consciousness of society at-large.
Moving forward, I hope the demolishing of 5 Pointz serves as a wake up call for more property owners to understand the intrinsic value of what opening their walls up in similar fashion can have on the artistic progression of the age in which we live.” – Sam Kleiman, Graffmags.com
“Just as the painted NYC subways once attracted foreigners to view the subculture of writing 5 Pointz drew them to the surface of Queens as a destination for observation, for many writers participation on its famed walls was akin to a pilgrimage to an Urban Mecca. 5 Pointz was one of the longest freestanding art installations in the country if not the world, it stood in resistance to the sanitizing policies the city has towards urban art. Regardless of its demise I congratulate those who managed it and participated over the many years, it shows that it is possible to have a public space wherein both the artists and public can interact freely.” – Mare 139, Artist
“I’ve had the honor of painting at 5 Pointz since 1998 when it was still called ‘The Phun Phactory,’ and have continued to paint there many times even up until a few weeks ago. In that time, I’ve become friends with its curator Meres, and was always amazed at how each year it grew and grew.
It is very sad to hear of its impending doom. I say doom because that what it feels like. Doom.
Graffiti art, which has become a worldwide phenomena and the biggest art movement in history has such an obvious connection to New York City and it is a damn shame that none of the supposed leaders of this city have any sort of vision to harness this art and its positive creative energy and create another place like 5 Pointz. Maybe I’m wrong and there is someone out there with that vision. I truly hope so.
Like graffiti art itself, 5 Pointz was for the artists by the artists and for the people. It will remain in the hearts and minds of all of those who held it dear.
All of the pieces that graced its walls, and the fantastic works created there have undoubtedly burned their way into the history and landscape of Long Island City. I am a native of L.I.C. and that building was extra special to me. Let’s see how special what they do there now will be.
I, for one, hope for another 5 Pointz to emerge in the city that made the world see the beauty we created. Mega props to Meres for fighting ‘till the end.
Long Live 5 Pointz, Long Live Graffiti Art Forever.” – Louie “KR.ONE” Gasparro, Artist