Looking at the warehouse, its long history is reflected on its walls. Founded in 1993 as a way to discourage graffiti vandalism while simultaneously encouraging artists to display their work in a formal showcase, 5 pointz has grown into a phenomenon curating work from artists all over the world. The world-class artwork has not only drawn aerosol artists from as far as Japan, Spain France and Brazil to Queens but also legendary artist spanning all genres. If you are lucky enough you might see Hip Hop legends such as Doug E Fresh and Rahzel perform along with countless other artists such as B-Boys, musicians and filmmakers who frequent 5 pointz.
The outdoor exhibit and its curator Jonathan Cohen, also known as Meres, have worked hard to distance 5 pointz from the term graffiti and its negative connotation. Aerosol art is created at 5 pointz. Unlike graffiti and random tagging, the artwork displayed at 5 pointz is meticulous and thought out, it takes time, dedication and talent and is admired from all over the world.
Every trip on the 7 enhances a different piece of art. One week I can’t keep my eyes off of the portraits the next I am captivated by the mosaics. Perhaps the best part about 5 pointz is that it’s a guessing game, some of your favorite pieces can be up for years or for as little as a day, quickly replaced with something new and unexpected. What makes this building so admirable is that it facilitates all modes of art in a free, safe and most importantly affordable environment. Not only is the outside of the building a place for people to express themselves but the inside of 5 pointz provides affordable studios for artists of all walks to create original works.
However, despite the literal and figurative vibrancy the warehouse adds to the Queens community, 5 pointz, in recent years has been shrouded in controversy. Although all art depicted on the buildings is done legally, with the permission of the building’s owner, 5 pointz has been scheduled to be demolished in order to make way for residential condos. The community has fought tirelessly to stop the destruction and is in the process of filing a federal suit against the building’s owners. A federal judge recently granted a 10-day restraining order to a group of artists, giving advocates more time but my advice would be to make the trip to see the aerosol mecca before it’s too late