5 Pointz artists collaborated on “Whitewash,” an exhibition currently showing at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery on 21-37 45th Road in Court Square. While the exhibit officially opens to the public on Saturday, VIP and press were invited to a private opening on Friday evening. The exhibit will run from April 5 to June 8, 2014.
The following is a series of six interviews with the artists and directors involved in the show. Each, in their own words, gives their take on their art, 5 Pointz, and/or the state of street art and graffiti.
“I did these three pieces, which is my main piece for the show. I painted this character on the wall at 5 Pointz and they were so happy on the wall. But now, after the whitewash, I thought about how they were feeling. They can’t move. They were frozen and they were raped. This is how they’re feeling under the whitewash. I combined my emotions which I felt from my past, and my experiences. [Points to the right side of the photo] Here’s a spider. When I was 18 years old, I went to Australia, and I got bit by a poison spider and I was about to die. I combined all of those bad experiences in my life and my character at 5 Pointz. So many people came to the show. I just want to thank to all the people who showed up.”
“This piece right here is obviously after the whitewashing and they were starting to do the asbestos removal. I went to the loading dock and when I got there I took a photo of the loading dock the way it is now with the gate up and everything. As I was driving home, I was thinking about what I would do with the photo. The first foundation that I put down was the bottom part of the building. I wanted to have a lot of sky between the building and what the building used to be. So the top part of the building still has all of the graffiti, not being whitewashed. It’s like a silhouette image that, even though the building is in the process of being destroyed, it will live on in spirit as we talk about it and as we think about it. It’s living on.”
“When I came to New York, 5 Pointz just blew my mind. I had never seen anything like it before. It was a huge community of artists, some of the best I had seen in one area. The curator was just a great person in general. The piece itself, my take on it is art versus money. I feel that art is an eternal thing, it lasts forever. It tells stories. Gold statutes and columns, that was all art. That’s lasted from time on. You can hide secrets in it; you can hide truths in it. Money, one day that will burn. Rocks and statutes, everything can turn over and those things will still be there. Basically, this piece is weighing what was more valuable.”
On Graffiti Ascension: I took the concept of ascension, when Jesus dies and rises to heaven and applied that to my piece at 5 Pointz. My piece from 5 Pointz that was whitewashed was called “Up High.” I painted it way up high on the building and the title was a little wink at the powers above by the heavens. Whenever people took pictures of my piece at 5 Pointz, they would see the sky and it seemed very heavenly. So for my whitewash canvas, I decided to incorporate the Virgin Mary above my piece, with the angels trying to fight off the money that’s trying to whitewash and cover the graffiti on the building. I put the alpha and the omega symbols on my piece, because for a lot of artists, 5 Pointz symbolized the beginning and the end of a movement. The alpha and omega is also symbolic of Jesus, so it’s definitely a spiritual piece.
On Uphigh Mini: It’s a miniature version of the “UpHigh” piece that i did at 5 Pointz. I decided to recreate it at home, because when I spray painted the mural at 5 Pointz, it was improvised. I had never sketched or planned it. So now, I’m working in reverse. I sketched and created something on a wall, that I can now finalize and explore further on canvas.
On putting together the exhibition: It’s definitely turning a negative into a positive. It was cathartic to put the show together and get the artists to talk about it and to dig deep into what we were going to do. They all have very strong messages, some of course about the whitewash in general, but also about the future. Of course this show is about 5 Pointz, but now, it’s global. It’s about the respect of public art in general. I’m very proud and I hope that what happened to 5 Pointz, and this show, and continuing the message is going to help, in general, street art to be more valued and respected. Graffit brings colors to neighborhoods that no one wanted to be. That was was Long Island City in 2002. People forget that when Meres One took over 5 Pointz, no one wanted to walk down Davis Street. It was covered in condoms and needles. And he cleaned up the block. So it’s fully understood that private owners will dispose of their properties, but there’s a way to do it. I truly feel that maybe now owners on one hand and artists on the other are going to work together to adorn the neighborhood, but also to make sure that art is preserved and respected.
“I really enjoyed my experience with 5 Pointz, particularly when I was on the 7 train coming from Manhattan, emerging out of the dark tunnel on to the light of day. And, off to my left, as we took that turn, was this incredible outdoor art gallery of the highest order. When it was whited over, I felt it. A lot more than I thought I would. I couldn’t have anticipated how negatively it affected me. It really took something away from me, a great pleasure. And also I would say a sociological comment about our society that concerned me, that we’re being obliterated as well.”