Farewell to a Legendary Graffiti Art Space

The time has come to bid adieu to 5Pointz, the legendary graffiti art space in Long Island City, Queens. The aerosol art world was painted white overnight by Jerry Wolkoff to make way for luxury housing that, some artists say, is anathema to graffiti art. To add insult to injury, the art was painted over in the dead of the night: over a dozen workers whitewashed the place between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. According to Wolkoff, the buildings won’t be demolished (again, to make room for luxury housing) until 2014, but he says he wanted to avoid having the artists see their work being bulldozed piece by piece, and to avoid potential altercations mid-smashing.

“This is why I did it: it was torture for them and for me. They couldn’t paint anymore and they loved to paint. Let me just get it over with and as I knock it down they’re not watching their piece of art going down,” Wolkoff said. “The milk spilled. It’s over. They don’t have to cry.”

A rally to save 5Pointz over the weekend drew hundreds. Some of the artists kept working on their pieces, hopeful that their artwork would get a last-minute pardon. Others hoped that the art space would be declared a historic landmark. Though the new space will include studios specifically reserved for artists, the aesthetic and history of the graffiti will be impossible to recreate.

5Pointz had long drawn international attention and acclaim, and drew many internationally-renowned artists. Even reclusive British graffiti artist Banksy, who spent October completing "an artist's residency on the streets of New York," gave 5Pointz a shoutout on his way out. "And that's it. Thanks for your patience. It's been fun. Save 5pointz. Bye," he wrote in his last post on the website of his New York project.

For old times' sake, here are some photos of 5Pointz before and after the paint job.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Andrew Burton/Getty Images News/Getty Images