For over a decade, 5Pointz was home to thousands of artists throughout the globe. Under the curatorial direction of the multi-talented Jonathan “Meres” Cohen, the walls of the 200,000 square foot factory served as the world's premiere open air aerosol museum.
Located at Jackson Avenue and Davis Street in Long Island City, 5Pointz was a Mecca of creativity, attracting droves of visitors daily. On weekends, MCs, musicians and break dancers added yet another exuberant dimension to 5Pointz's distinct energy.
This all came to a halt on November 19, 2013 when, under the direction of the building's owners, the walls of 5Pointz were whitewashed.
The following images are representative of the wide spectrum of vibrant artwork that surfaced during 5Pointz's final five years.
For ten years, Jonathan “Meres” Cohen had been the leading force behind 5Pointz. His outdoor murals can be seen throughout the premises, often easily discernible by their signature lightbulbs. Born in the South Bronx and raised in Flushing, Queens, he immersed himself in the graffiti culture at age 13, beginning with tags and throw-ups. Meres started the TD4 -- the dealdly4Mula crew -- whose members continue to create some of the most impressive graffiti pieces to be seen anywhere. Meres, himself, has painted hundreds of murals in a range of styles from Florida to Holland.
Rubin was first introduced to graffiti by the movie “Beat Street” when he was ten years old. In 1986, two years after graffiti first surfaced in his Swedish city, Rubin crafted his first piece but wasn't yet prolifically painting on the streets. Rather, he was working on commissions for a range of retail stores and organizations such as Greenpeace. From the late 1990's through 2007, Rubin devoted his creative energies chiefly to music, promoting the band that he founded. But after spending time in NYC, Rubin became passionate, once again, about graffiti. These days, his exquisitely deft murals, marked by blazing colors and distinct angular lines, surface throughout New York City.
“When I first began visiting 5Pointz in 2011, I was struck by the community's warmth and genuine respect. Beginners painted alongside masters of the craft, who enthusiastically shared their knowhow and experience.
Accomplished artists, beginners and admirers all felt at home at 5Pointz. Its wholesome and democratic atmosphere invited all styles and modes of creative expression” - Rachel Fawn Alban
A Mecca not only of graffiti, but of the many positive elements of hip-hop culture, 5Pointz also served as a stage for dozens of rappers, DJ's and b-boys.
Kool Herc, Doug E. Fresh, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Caz, Mobb Deep and Marley Marl are among the many legends who shared their talents at 5Pointz, attracting huge crowds each weekend.
5Pointz's final year was marked by a four-month tribute to 40 years of hip-hop.
Originally from Tunisia, eL Seed took his soulful, lyrical calligraffiti to cities across the world. His work represents a fusion between classical Arabic calligraphy and contemporary graffiti. Growing up in France, he started tagging in the suburbs of Paris in the late 90's at age 16. eL Seed was involved in the hip-hop culture as a B-Boy during his teenage years before attending business school and working as a consultant. He then transitioned to being a street artist with a soft spot for abandoned areas of the city. eL Seed gained much praise after he splendidly calligraphed the facade of Tunisia's tallest minaret.
A self-taught artist from the South Bronx, Luis “Zimad” Lamboy began gracing walls with his graffiti skills at age 14, and had his first exhibit at Fashion Moda in 1984. A member of several crews, including OTB and TD4, Zimad has forged a unique typography inspired by Sacred Geometry, a geometry genre applied to the design of sacred structures and holy architecture. He has exhibited his fine arts pieces world-wide and continues to share his graffiti skills on public spaces across the globe.
Active on the streets of New York City for over 30 years, James “Sexer” Rodriguez has also achieved wide commercial success as a designer. At 13, he began tagging the walls of the South Bronx and quickly honed his skills to create large-scale pieces. An admirer of Picasso, his works on canvas, a fusion of graffiti and realism, have been exhibited in galleries in NYC, the Caribbean and Europe.
Based in Granada, Spain, the talented Raoul Ruiz, aka El Nino del las Pinturas, has graced the walls of his native city. He was first introduced to graffiti culture by the cult movie “Style Wars,” and with only a brief year in art school, he credits the streets as his real teacher. Raul's aesthetics has Muslim influences, and his penchant for animals delightfully enhances cityscapes.
Growing up in Australia, James Cochran aka Jimmy C became immersed in the graffiti subculture at age 16. Although he did attend art school, he regards himself as a self-taught painter who resisted the art world's romance with conceptual art. Currently based in London where he was born, Jimmy C is identified with his dot paintings, a particular aerosol pointillist style that evolved from his work with aboriginal art its and communities in Australia.
Born in Puerto Rico, in 1981, David “RIMX” Sepulveda attended specialized art schools through the university level in Santurce. Trained as a classical painter, RIMX makes his mark both back at home and in NYC, fashioning urban murals that reflect his training. A member of the artist collective CORO, comprised of graphic designers, illustrators and sculptors, RIMX has exhibited his art in galleries in all four corners of the globe.
Born and raised in New York City, Fumero has turned the walls of his native city into his open-air gallery featuring a range of work -- from provocative political posters to paintings of his family members. With a BFA from New York City's prestigious School of Visual Arts, Fumero has been increasingly applying his fine arts skills to his works on the streets. The vivid colors of his portraits reflect the intense creative energy of 5Pointz.
Dustin Spagnola is a prolific visual artist from North Carolina. Influenced by punk rock, he started graffiti writing at a young age. Spagnola has exhibited in fine art galleries and painted on crumbling buildings of disenfranchised neighborhoods. His public art is frequently politically engaged; he recurrently portrays past Civil Rights leaders and African American heroes, but also tigers -- for their expressiveness and wild nature.
Esteban del Valle is a Chicago native based in Brooklyn, NY. Esteban earned a BFA in Art History and Painting and later a Masters Degree in Painting. Inspired by innovative music and performance art, Esteban's street art can be found in the New York City, Chicago, San Antonio, and Kansas City. Esteban also does studio art and works for Groundswell, an organization that engages youth in creating community murals.
While largely the domain of males, the graffiti world has included female artists from early on. Among those who graced the walls of 5Pointz are dozens of female artists from the legendary Lady Pink to Japanese artist and nurse Shiro.
A native of Singapore, Sheryo has left her mark in major cities across the world, including NYC. Often in stark black and white and occasionally in color, her fanciful characters abound with seductive energy.
Born in Ecuador in 1964, Sandra Fabara aka Lady Pink became involved in the graffiti culture at age 15 when she was a student at New York City's famed High School of Art and Design. Perhaps the only female who could compete with with the guys in the then-burgeoning graffiti culture, she is recognized as one of its early pioneers. Highly regarded for the subway trains she started painting in the 1970's, she co-starred in Charlie Ahearn's 1983 classic film “Wild Style.” Her art is now in prestigious institutions such as the Whitney Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Lady Pink continues to enhance the walls of New York City.
Born and based in Japan, Shiro has spent time in New York City, residing in both Brooklyn and Queens. Drawing her inspiration from the graffiti and hip-hop cultures, Shiro is known for her colorful cartoony portraits of voluptuous women that have graced walls in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Shiro's training and employment as a nurse, along with her deep concern for others, paved the way to her involvement in an array of community-based projects in both Japan and New York City.
Born in Ecuador and raised in Corona, Queens, Toofly was first drawn to the graffiti culture on her commutes on the 7 train. Inspired by tags and fill-ins, she began to fashion her own hand styles and characters. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, Toofly has achieved recognition as both a talented painter and designer. Intent on always giving back to the people, Toofly has been involved with countless community projects and female collectives.
5Pointz (Rest in Power)
In August 2013, the building's landlords officially announced the replacement of the iconic open air gallery by a high rise residential complex. After ten years of hosting artists' creative visions, this “United Nations of Aerosol Art” would become just one more victim of gentrification.
Artists and their supporters immediately opposed the redevelopment project through protests, picketing and rallies, both on the premises and through online media platforms and, finally, in court. After much controversy and debate - with artists, members of the local community, politicians and city officials all weighing in on the issue - the city landmark was whitewashed overnight on November 19, 2013. The act was labeled as an “art murder.”
“5Pointz's heartless destruction profoundly saddened not only the artists who called it home and those who traveled there from across the globe, but all of us who loved the creativity and camaraderie that it represented.” - Lois Stavsky
Curator — Lois Stavsky, Editor of Street Art NYC and Content Provider for Street Art NYC iPhone Application
Co-curator — Houda Lazrak, New York University, M.A. Candidate in Museum Studies
Photographers — Dani Reyes Mozeson, Tara Murray, Lenny Collado, Lois Stavsky, Rachel Fawn Alban and Sara C. Mozeson