Much has been written about this five-story and mostly vacant warehouse located in Long Island City, Queens. This outdoor graffiti exhibition is known as 5Pointz and it spans an entire city block where after having some of your best work reviewed and approved by the owner, it’s given artist from all around the world the opportunity to choose a spot around the facade of building and express themselves with spray cans as long as there’s no pornography, explicit language or inflammatory politics involved.
I had seen photographs of 5Pointz online but had never made the time drive out and appreciate up in person street art that unquestionably has more craftsmanship than any other illegal vandalism we’ve all seen anywhere else and I think it’s the case because in a setting like this, you’re actually granted the time to perfect your craft and artwork since nothing is being created unauthorized.
In addition to the stunning artwork, what compelled me even more to visit was having read an article which talked about a proposal that had been submitted who’s aim is to replace this graffiti mecca with two high-rise towers which sounded beyond insane. Jonathan Cohen, better known as Meres, the curator of 5Pointz used an analogy that I believe suits perfectly - “If it were to happen, it would be no different than tearing down the MOMA or the Guggenheim.”
I knew all of this before arriving and yet the moment I began chatting with some of the artist, I completely forgot to ask for their take on the matter. As far as photographing and filming, there’s clear signs around the building prohibiting it which was initially a huge disappointment but after inquiring about it, the owner commented on how the prohibition alludes more to full-blown elaborate setups rather than the casual visitors stoping by to take with them a piece of this landmark.
The most fascinating portion of my visit was seeing how sociable every single artist I approach was, especially Eli who took roughly 30 minutes away from working on his project in order to give me glimpse of much bigger ventures he has underway. He didn’t just describe himself as a street artist but more as brand and the amount of high-end clients he’s collaborated with in the span of 5 years was beyond impressive. He was gracious enough to show me his portfolio from the back of his van. Doesn’t get any more raw and real than that.