It wasn’t too long ago when commuters would come out of the 7 train tunnel from Manhattan and see a large building covered in large, beautiful letters and characters–the iconic 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center. Today, that space is a hole in the ground, torn down to make way for a building that will lack the color and personality of 5Pointz. In Bushwick, however, inside and around Brooklyn Reclaimed, a place that is built on the idea of keeping with tradition, a collection of artists that included 5Pointz curator Meres One, came to once again give all of us a place where we can see the art form flourish. The unveiling of the event “Reclaimed” by Brooklyn Reclaimed and the #5PointzCreate crew took place this past Saturday.
Now how does a bunch of graffiti writers end up mixed with a furniture company? Well, while they may seem different, both sides have a mutual appreciation when it comes to keeping alive certain traditions. Brooklyn Reclaimed specializes in crafting furniture from reclaimed wood. The wood comes from all over Brooklyn, the craftsman store it, restore it to its former glory and craft it for use today. The graffiti writers are veterans who want to keep their traditions of painting on the street, because it’s on the street, where graffiti was born and raised. What could be viewed as so different, has actually come together to produce an art show where both traditions can be celebrated equally.
The artwork inside the gallery belong to the likes of Meres One, Danielle Mastrion, Ben Angotti, Lexi Bella, See TF, Auks One, among others. Outside of the gallery Meres, along with TooFly NYC, Sloke One, Topaz and the other artists featured in the show painted large murals, all of it using reclaimed wood from places like Coney Island, where old wood from the famous boardwalk was damaged due to Hurricane Sandy back in 2012. Today, that piece of Brooklyn history is now being put back to use as a canvas for artistic expression.
Not only did the artists use the wood for their artwork, but according to photographer and Untapped Cities contributor Rachel Alban they also “cut, burnt, painted and polished” the wood before use. As she tells us, the artists are “pulling nails out of wood, sanding, and finishing each pane” before even raising that first bottle of spray paint. While continuing the traditions of making art on the streets of New York City, the graffiti veterans also became familiar with the traditions of wood cutting and carving. A blending of both worlds that perfectly encapsulates what the event was all about.
This is not going to be a singular event–more are planned for the future–with the people who own the property in love at the idea of artwork being seen on their way to or from the job. It shows that the story of 5Pointz didn’t end once the building came down, because here is the thing about graffiti–it came from the South Bronx and it was programmed to survive. With every wall that gets buffed or building that gets torn down, a community that once shunned graffiti now try to find it a new home. We may never have a place like 5Pointz again, but the people who helped make it what it was have not let that stop them from carrying its message. The destruction of 5Pointz was a loss to our city’s identity, but ever vigilant, the artists have continued to find new ways and new homes to keep tradition alive.
He wouldn’t mind having a new wooden desk for his bedroom. To help carry that thing contact the author @ChrisLInoa