Graffiti Shrine Ruined before Razing
Artists worldwide are mourning the loss of a New York City haven for more than 1,500 graffiti artists whose five-story canvas has been whitewashed, according to reports.
Owners of the towering warehouse in Queens ordered its art-covered walls, known as the 5Pointz Aerosol Gallery, to be painted over Tuesday (Nov. 19), reports said.
A team of painters, guarded by police, reportedly covered the exterior walls of the 200,000-square-foot building with white paint in the early-morning hours.
The former “graffiti Mecca” is slated to be torn down in the coming months to make way for two apartment towers that were recently approved by the New York City Council, reports relate.
This slideshow features before and after photos of the warehouse.
The overnight painting project did not sit well with the artists and 5Pointz supporters who had attempted to get the shrine registered as a landmark earlier this year.
“The fact that they destroyed the art before they razed the building, it’s a really big slap in the face,” Eric Felisbret, an expert on street art and author of the book Graffiti New York, told the New York Times.
“So many people put so much passion and energy into it.”
“This is the biggest rag and disrespect in the history of graffiti,” Marie Cecile Flaguel, a spokeswoman for the group behind 5Pointz also told the Times.
Jerry Wolkoff, the building owner, explained to the news bureau that painting over the artwork before the demolition was “humane.” He had allowed the former water-meter factory to become a graffiti haven for more than a decade.
He said watching the brightly colored walls being torn down piece by piece would have been “torture” for the artists.
Wolkoff plans to erect a 60-foot wall near the new apartments for graffiti, according to the Times.
But, for now, any spray-paint wielding artist who tries to paint a farewell message on the white walls of 5Pointz will be arrested for vandalism, according to reports, citing police.