5 Pointz, the Long Island City, Queens graffiti mecca, might not have been lucrative enough for developer G&M Realty to keep on its property, but it sure makes for a nifty marketing ploy to attract potential renters to its soon-to-be constructed pair of residential towers. Jerry and David Wolkoff, the father-and-son owners of G&M, filed an application last spring to trademark the street art name for the new development. The application has been denied twice, but the Wolkoffs are still determined to figure out a way to capitalize on the 5 Pointz name. The artists whose work once covered the walls of the demolished warehouse are none too pleased. 5 Pointz curator and artist Jonathan Cohen (a.k.a. MeresOne), has launched a petition on MoveOn.org, seeking to fight the trademark. (As of this publishing, the petition had nearly 2,500 names.) According to the New York Daily News, the developers, who’ve pledged to dedicate 12,000 square feet to artist studios and exhibition space, are befuddled by the protests. Well, why would the artists take issue with the condo building using the beloved 5 Pointz name? All G&M did was surreptitiously whitewash the building in the middle of the night, erasing any trace of art.
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Demolition of the graffiti mecca known as “5Pointz” in Long Island City, Queens has become a flashpoint in New York City development. The iconic arts institution was literally whitewashed by the developer last spring and has since been turned to rubble to make way for two rental towers. As the controversial project continues in Queens, the destruction of another world-renowned graffiti forum, just a few miles away in the South Bronx, has gone largely unnoticed. The graffiti-covered walls of Boone Avenue are currently being demolished to make way for a massive housing development. For decades, some of the world's most respected street artists came to this desolate, industrial stretch, turning warehouses into canvases. The result was a constantly-evolving public gallery, curated by Cope2, a living legend in the street art world. But, let's be clear, this is not the same story as 5Pointz—the new development will not be luxury towers, but much-needed affordable housing. Still, the loss of a cultural institution is the loss of a cultural institution. Since the city broke ground on the development, a coalition of artists, architects, and students has formed to preserve as much of the site's history as it can. The project is called The Boone Room and its being run by SLO Architecture, the Bronx River Art Center, and students from Fannie Lou Hamer High School in the Bronx, and The New School in Manhattan. Last spring, students conducted video interviews with local artists and photographed existing work as part of an online exhibition that will go live in January. To create new, permanent street art in the neighborhood, artists, under the curatorship of Cope2, were commissioned to paint an interior wall of the Fannie Lou Hamer High School. The team behind The Boone Room has also worked with the developer to preserve some of Boone Avenue's colorful, roll-down gates which are being repurposed into a canopy for a performance space outside of the Bronx River Art Center. When AN recently visited Boone Avenue, local artist and resident David Yearwood, was working on what's known as Boone Avenue's "practice wall.” (This wall is expected to be demolished by a later stage in the development.) “Doing art in the neighborhood is a hard thing to do,” said Yearwood. “I’ve got a lot of friends that don’t like art, so you’ve got to find things to do get out of the neighborhood.” So Boone Avenue is where Yearwood comes, almost every single day. Finding somewhere else like Boone won’t be easy. "It’s basically a rough life right now for a lot of people,” he said. “There’s nowhere else to go.”
As we speak, Long Island City’s graffiti mecca, 5Pointz, is being demolished so two beige apartment towers can rise in its place. But lest we forget the history of the iconic institution, Jerry Wolkoff, the owner of 5Pointz, wants to trademark its name so he can spray it on the residential replacement he is developing. DNAInfo reported that Wolkoff’s company G&M Realty filed an application in March with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to do just that. That request was apparently denied in June, but Wolkoff has some time to respond. As the New York Times explained last year, the name was originally coined by graffiti artist Meres One back in 2002. Unsurprisingly, the attempt to trademark the name has been blasted by 5Pointz artists. But Wolkoff has defended his actions, saying that all is not lost with the new development as space will be reserved in his towers for artists' work. "I'm bringing the artists back," he told DNAinfo. "The building is going to be back and the artists are going to be back." Well clearly not everyone sees it that way. [h/t 6sqft]
It is the end of an era. The New York City Council voted in a favor of a plan to demolish the iconic 5Pointz, the former manufacturing building-turned-graffiti-mecca, in Long Island City, Queens, to make way for a $400 million residential development. The New York Times reported that the Wolkoff family, the owner and developer of the property, will build two residential towers—one of which will climb up to 47 stories—consisting all together of 1,000 units. But first, the Wolkoffs needed the approval of City Council to build beyond the current zoning regulations. Before today's decision, the developer negotiated a deal with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and the community board to bump up the number of affordable apartments to 210 and accommodate 12,000 square of artist studio space. The $400 million project will also provide wall space for aerosol artists to exhibit their work. The graffiti artists, however, are disappointed with this offer and the final outcome. Jonathan Cohen, curator of 5Pointz, told the New York Times, that this development will “just destroy more of what made New York what it is. Now it is just boring, full of bland boring towers of boxes of glass."