We were preparing this article about the 5 Pointz Rally for publishing yesterday when the news first broke that the building had been whitewashed in the middle of the night. This piece was originally meant to be a narrative of the rally on November 16, when hundreds of people gathered at 5 Pointz Art Center in Long Island City to show support for the beloved graffiti exhibition space. This article has been revised as a tribute to 5 Pointz and their fight for survival.
These images from the rally demonstrate the peaceful path taken by the artists and 5 Pointz community. The whitewash has been received as an act of outright aggression which was experienced as a painful loss by many people. It is unclear what motivated the developers to do this, but all of 5 Pointz’ (legal) artwork was destroyed in a disrespectful and cruel manner. It makes us wonder, who are the vandals here?
The rally was organized in just four days, after a judge lifted the temporary restraining order on the developers and denied the injunction to prevent demolition. The primary purposes of the rally were to raise morale, discuss peaceful protest strategies, as well as collect signatures to landmark the building that has been home to their work for over a decade. (Though the landmark designation was always a long-shot, without the artwork itself now, it doesn’t seem possible). A crowd of hundreds came out and enjoyed a beautiful day.
Across the street from MoMA PS1, 5 Pointz was an essential part of an artist community and art scene. The impassioned phrase, “Art Is Life” was included in several art works around the complex, and became one of the mantras used by supporters during 5 Pointz fight for survival.
Around 5 Pointz were several “Memorial Walls” that pay respect to artists who have passed away. There are also artworks by artists who have died, including this blue and green piece (center) by Sey-One, which we learned about on our tour last year.
While there was a noticeable (and unnecessary) NYPD presence, at times the rally had a party atmosphere. Old School hip hop music was provided all afternoon by DJ Formula One.
The name 5Pointz represents the five boroughs, but it really seems like a global community. The crowd was as diverse as the gorgeous artwork around the loading dock, created by Shiro from Japan, Djalouz and Doudou from France, Swiss artists Wes 21 and Onur, and many other artists from around the world. Families, seniors, and even dogs showed up to support 5 Pointz and enjoy the event.
At the time of the rally, there was no painting allowed on the walls, however there was plenty of fresh canvas. This is typical at 5 Pointz, where on most weekends, visitors can often meet artists and buy (affordable) original artwork.
Speakers took the “stage” from 4-5 pm.
The loading dock area filled with hundreds of supporters.
Artists, teachers, students, and neighbors shared personal stories about 5 Pointz, using an open mike format. They talked about their personal involvement with 5 Pointz, finding inspiration during hard times, and reminisced about meaningful moments, such as meeting girlfriends. 5 Pointz was described as a “monument” and a place where learning and teaching happened daily.
The event ended on a positive note, with cheering and break dancing. It seemed a moment of togetherness and gratitude.
Respect and love to the 5 Pointz crew. We will miss this site dearly. Thank you for all you did, for the memories, the art, and inspiration. We wish you nothing but the best as you write your next chapters..
See more photography from Rachel Fawn Alban.