5Pointz Aerosol Art Center in Long Island City has been considered a mecca for graffiti artists, hip-hop performers and aficionados for more than 10 years. Yet as the urban art center battles for its existence, some graffiti artists wonder where the big-name celebrities are to defend the haven against developers eager to transform the property into an apartment complex.
Curated by veteran graffiti artist Meres One (Jonathan Cohen), 5 Pointz encompasses 200,000 square feet of industrial space between Jackson Avenue and Davis Street where artists showcase their aerosol creations. The graffiti is legal through an agreement with the building’s owner, Gerry Wolkoff of G & M Realty.
But in March, Wolkoff announced the building could become the cornerstone of a neighborhood revitalization project aimed at transforming Long Island City into the next downtown Brooklyn.
Meres handpicks the artists from submissions from around the world. His goal is to transform the space into a graffiti art museum. Over the years, 5Pointz has attracted well-known hip-hop and R & B artists like Joss Stone, Grandmaster Flash, and Doug E. Fresh. Stone is one of the few celebrities to start a petition to prevent 5Pointz from being closed.
Zeso, a graffiti artist from France and a 5Pointz denizen, recently took time to talk about what makes the center more than just a colorful New York artifact.