Three graffiti artists (also known as writers) loudly chatter with each other in a muffled foreign language while they smear an assortment of colorful letters across a grungy-looking wall in Long Island City.
People walk by and abruptly stop to stare, cars slow down; and tourists begin to pile up to take photos – not just of the street artists and their wall but the entire outdoor art exhibit known as 5Pointz.
5Pointz, located in Queens is an outdoor graffiti exhibit showcasing works from writers all over the world. (Photo taken by K.Rizvi for the bare square. All rights reserved.)
5Pointz Arts Centeris considered as the world’s “graffiti Mecca” and attracts local and global artists to display their work.
But this graffiti hub might not last for long and the walls of this 200,000 sq. ft. building buried in murals and writing might disappear forever.
The landowner of the 5Pointz building, Jerry Wolkoff, filed redevelopment plans last spring to tear down the massive canvas and replace it with a $350 million project of two residential towers, shops, supermarkets and a space for 5Pointz artists to continue showcasing their craft.
But for long-time graffiti artist and curator of 5Pointz Jonathan Cohen (known by his graffiti name Meres), a new space alongside the residential buildings won’t have the same vibe as the current graffiti-covered building.
“We’re offering a free haven for writers to come and paint without worrying about any legal issues and educating the masses of what graffiti art is all about,” Cohen said.
Wolkof did not respond in time to e-mails from the bare square for comment.
Take a look at some of the inspiring art living at 5Pointz:
Joker mural created by 5Pointz curator Jonathan Cohen aka Meres. (Photo taken by K.Rizvi for the bare square. All rights reserved.)
A portrait of hip-hop artist Nas with his "One Mic" lyrics in the background. (Photo taken by K.Rizvi for the bare square. All rights reserved.)
The view of 5Pointz from the elevated No. 7 train near Court House Square - just a few meet away from the building. (Photo taken by K.Rizvi for the bare square. All rights reserved.)
5Pointz was originally known as The Phun Phactory established in 1993 a legal space for young artists to express their creativity.
Cohen took over The Phun Phactory as the curator in 2001 and renamed the building to 5Pointz. Cohen spent the last 10 years providing permits for writers such as Matthias Mazur who hails from a small town near Dortmund, Germany.
“I’ve been living in New York for a few months now and it’s a great place to paint, meet people and freely express yourself without getting into trouble,” Mazur said as he waited to paint for the first time in 5Pointz.
But to keep 5Pointz alive and well, maintenance is a must. In 2009, a fire escape collapsed and seriously injured a jewelry artist. Artists had to abandon their studios after the accident, but Cohen and his band of writers were allowed to continue painting.
With the limited amount of funding, Cullen can only work on small renovation projects. Cullen said he wants to focus on the present and is still hopeful of 5Pointz’s survival.
“You don’t spend everyday thinking about death, so I’m not going to think about the death of 5Pointz,” Cohen said. “I’m pretty sure we will still be here next summer.”
Cohen sees the potential of 5Pointz growing into something larger with a graffiti museum inside, a youth center for art education and keeping the outside walls as it is – a crossroads and outdoor community for artists and art-lovers.
Want to stay updated on the future of 5Pointz and other art-related news? Like the bare square on Facebook and follow our Twitter feed to be the first ones to find out!
As commemorations of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2011 fade into memory, we turn to many sources of healing: family, music, religion, poetry, meditation, discourse, and theater can all serve as reservoirs of strength.
Art has always been an outlet for healing when tragedy occurs. Many galleries, exhibits and art-related events will continue to serve as focal points of comprehension and coping for the remainder of the year. Join “the bare square” as we share some of the ways 9/11 is being remembered through art.
Artist Todd Stonecreated series of watercolors gathered in a collection called “Witness/Downtown Rising.” Stone’s watercolors show the emotional journey the American community has taken through the course of recovery and rebuilding. As Stone describes, the 20 watercolors “depict the succession of events of the day and its aftermath.”
Todd Stone's 9/11 painting from September 2011.
Stone saw the entire event from his studio window and rooftop in Tribeca. While Stone felt he should race down and give a hand to the rescue workers, his wife encouraged him to focus on his specialty and role: to bear witness. He started to paint as the events unfolded.
The chronological paintings record the view of the collapse from street-level–the huge clouds of black smoke and scattered debris, the destruction of the buildings and human life. Eventually, the New York Foundation for the Arts sponsored his work and gave him unique access to the construction site.
An exhibit of the watercolors concludes Monday, Sep. 12, 2011 at a temporary studio on the 48th Floor of 7 World Trade Center.
Like Stone, New York artist EJay Weiss also witnessed the tragedy from his Tribeca studio and has a series of 12 paintings mixed with ash from the site into paint entitled “9/11 Elegies: 2001-2011.”
EJay Weiss' "9/11 Elegies: 2001-2011."
Miya Ando creates work of art with sheets of steel–including the donated pieces from the World Trade Center. Ando (mentioned on “the bare square” before) designed a sculpture incorporating steel donated by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from the World Trade Center. Ando submitted her design for a contest sponsored by the 9/11 London Project last year and was chosen as the winner.
The work features two girders supporting a third steel sheet polished to a reflective gloss. The high-gloss sheet, surprises, and may convey a message that time need not always lead to decay (a surprising result), or perhaps that peace may only be found literally after reflection.
Unveiled earlier this week in in Battersea Park in London, the three story, 9,000 pound sculpture still needs a permanent home.
As reported by “the bare square” back in March, Ando’s artwork attempts to portray a message of peace and new life, but has been the subject of some controversy.
A handful of the relatives of the more than 60 British victims of 9/11 have objected the use of the Twin Towers’ steel remnants, failing to see the message of healing and rebirth. Still others have embraced the sculpture.
Below, check out a video of artist Joe Castillo creating a very moving SandStory® piece, “Never Forget”, aperformance artwork created in front of a live audience as a tribute.
At the link, another artist on YouTube creates a piece of “speed art” for the anniversary of 9/11.
If you head to Williamsburg, Brooklyn near Kent Avenue (North 4th & North 5th Streets) you’ll see a 328 ft. long public mural, called Project Brave, created by street artist WK, who collaborated with NYC firefighters to showcase the dedication of the workers during 9/11.
California artist Michele Pred used confiscated items from airports to create an artwork inspired by the events of 9/11. She spent five months in 2002 petitioning for permission to use the confiscated items from airports as building blocks to create art installations and other works in the form of hearts, red crosses, and maps of the U.S.
Michelle Pred's "Fear Culture." (2011)
Michele Pred's "Travelers" includes confiscated scissors from airport security. (2011)
Pred began her work with the detritus confiscated by airport security, shortly after 9/11. Pred’s show, “Confiscated,” is on view at Jack Fischer Gallery at 49 Geary St #418 in San Francisco.
Sam Hollenshead's photo from "One Year at Ground Zero: From Recovery to Rebuilding." (2001)
You can experience a variety of exhibits dedicated to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at NYU, from an exhibition showcasing 70 works created by NYU faculty and staff, to photography by Joel Meyerowitz, the only photographer given unlimited access of Ground Zero. The faculty and staff exhibition embraces a wide array of perspectives and media with works ranging from black-and-white and color photographs and scholarly publications to net art, video, and other multimedia.
For more variety, visit the opening of an exhibit showcasing more than 70 works by 41 artists at MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Ave. at the intersection of 46th Ave., Long Island City). Curated by Peter Elley, many of these works were completed prior to 9/11.
Because of the proximity of Ground Zero to her studio, New York painter and sculpture Sally Pettus spent some time walking the perimeter. With this experience, Pettus worked on a series of paintings entitled “Paintings From The Perimeter.” Her paintings document scenes from the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site using oil on canvas. See more of her work through the links.
Through photography, painting, sculpture, installation, video, street art, or other media, art continues to help artists and viewers respond to tragedy. Intentions and reactions can be critical or sentimental but always provide an outlet of expression.
Anyone who goes to Venice during the annual Carnevale di Venezi festival will see the canals, the architecture, the colorful masks, and the dramatic, impressive costumes. But if you’re especially lucky, as I was, you might see something unexpected.
As I was shuffling through the narrow and crowed Venetian streets this April, I literally stumbled on a man on his hands and knees rapidly chalking away with his colorful pastels. After getting up and dusting myself off, I saw a Greek goddess reaching out to an immense crowd of onlookers.
Street painting or chalking dates back to the 16th century in Italy. Artists would re-create their work, originally portrayals of religious imagery in churches, on the streets.
Five hundred years later, street artists have taken this craft to another level. Using the anamorphic effect, (a distortion technique which requires viewers to either use a specific device or stand at a specific vantage point to see the image) artists transform flat surfaces into extraordinary 3-D scenes.
Artists fill the streets with images from Renaissance classicism to abstract expressionism. The chalk painting, the concrete surfaces and the architectural surroundings all become part of a 3-D illusion.
Some of the well-known anamorphic street artists include German born 3-D art illusionist Edgar Mueller andKurt Wenner, known for introducing 3-D pavement art in the 80′s.
Mueller has created incredibly detailed pieces focusing on water. Check out this video of the making of Edgar Mueller’s famous Crevasse in Dun Laoghaire.The Bare Square has written about the inspirational use of water in art before!
Wenner likes to mix Renaissance classicism with modern imagination to create exceptional anamorphic images.
Edgar Mueller's Crevasse in Dun Laoghaire.
Another one of Edgar Mueller's chalk paintings seen through a camera with the "bird's eye" effect.
These paintings can last anywhere from a few days to over a year depending on the climate, frequent movement of pedestrians and cards among other factors.
Although 3-D anamorphic art can be categorized as a style of graffiti, anamorphic moves away from the traditional style of displaying images and words. Anamorphic art lets viewers engage and interact with the images.
U.K. based artist Julian Beever
I know I will forever remember the 3-D artwork of Venice–long after it disappears from its concrete canvas on the street.
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Banksy thrives on controversy and has become one of the world’s most well-known street artists, ironic considering his masked and anonymous identity. Banksy’s work evokes a range of reactions: contemplation, anger, surprise, sadness, laughter (and many more, we’re sure).
To react to Banksy’s work, you have to see it. You could see pictures of his work here at The Bare Square, on some other art news website, or at Banksy’s website. For this kind of art, though, it seems best to experience it in person, in the flesh. But where to look?
Now…there’s an app for that.
Banksy-Locations app (from the iTunes store)
We were thrilled when we heard about the all-new Banksy app for the iPhone.
Banksy’s previous apps featured photos of his work, social sharing of street art, quizzes, and more. The new Banksy-Locations app, released Monday, gives the user the locations and directions to Banksy’s work, as well as news feed and phone wallpaper features.
No word on the Droid or iPad version yet, but if we hear anything, we’ll let you know!
(Shout out to Eileen, our stalwart intern, for finding this awesome story idea!)
Robert Burns’ 1785 poem “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough” describes a farmer’s empathy with a mouse’s lost dreams, destroyed by the farmer’s plough. The farmer ponders his own existence at the hands of the fates, musing, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry”, inspiring John Steinbeck’s famous 1935 novella, Of Mice And Men.
Similarly, New York recently lost not a mouse, but a moustache, namely the Moustache Man, his transient empire of mirth plowed under by the well-meaning but misguided efforts of New York’s finest.
"Untitled" Moustache Man 2011
Beginning around June of last year, Moustache Man, as he became known, added his own touch to the upper lips of people and beasts in subway ads all over New York City, simply writing the word “moustache” with a spiral accent on the first and last letters.
In time, his signature moustaches became a frequent and welcome break from the monotonous, relentless subway ads in the city. He spawned imitators. Admirers blossomed. “Bitchcakes”, who writes “Musings of an Irate Commuter” sung his praises. And he noticed.
"Bitchcakes" beside the homage of Moustache Man to her.
His creations never became ubiquitous. With thousands of ads, each changing almost weekly–his moustaches couldn’t possibly become ever-present. Still, he persevered. His reign of amusement ruled for months. And the out-of-home advertisers fumed with rage.
Jowy Romano’s Subway Art Blog scooped everyone with an interview in May of this year. The Moustache Man explained his inspiration.
At it’s simplest level, it’s a quick joke meant to give commuters something to smile about while they’re waiting for the subway, coming off from a long day at work, or getting stabbed on the D train. And that’s certainly how it started. But for me it’s evolved into part of this broader movement of subverting advertisements. Especially in New York, where we’re bombarded with ads everywhere we go, it feels more and more like we’re part of a one-sided conversation. We’re getting these ridiculous images and dumb catchphrases shoved down our throats, why shouldn’t we be able to talk back? So many ads are so laughably stupid that a cartoonish moustache just seems to fit. On another level, it’s a return to hand-written form in a technology driven age where we type so much that some of us have actually forgotten how to write cursive.
Also it’s about war or something.
Whatever his true impetus, the war ended in June. Arrested just a few blocks from the very home of the co-founders of The Bare Square, The Moustache Man, aka Joseph Waldo, 26 (See a photo of the rampant artist here.), had to promise authorities to…stop.
No more moustaches.
The Bare Square immediately tweeted the demise of The Moustache Man. All is well with the advertisers. New York’s finest can turn their attention to fare jumpers and felons. And what are we left with?
“And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!” (Burns)
Thank you, Joe. We hardly knew you.
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