Graffiti Art Mecca Whitewashed


Graffiti art has always, by its nature, been an outsider genre, not just in the literal sense of being created in the streets and alleyways of urban settings. Most often artists armed with spray cans, called aerosol artists, have worked in an illegal fashion on the facades of buildings, subway cars and other surfaces not owned by the artists themselves. Yet, in some areas, such as New York City, graffiti art is admired: Some claim the unique works give a voice to street artists or those who feel disconnected from the society and the city. For decades, a building in Queens, New York City, known as 5Pointz, was a haven for such works of art. So it seems one person’s act of vandalism is another person’s Van Gogh.

But according to the New York Daily News website and other sources, what took decades for scores of artists to create took just one night to wipe out. This past November, the owners of the building, Jerry and David Wolkoff, who had let artists paint on the building for years, covered over the facade of the building they own with white paint. In doing so, they destroyed countless works by graffiti artists. The owners say the purpose was to prepare the building for demolition and to spare the artists the pain of watching their works of art being destroyed by a wrecking ball.

5Pointz’s website,, stated that the location, known more officially as 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, is “an outdoor art exhibit space … considered to be the world’s premiere ‘graffiti Mecca,’ where aerosol artists from around the globe paint colorful pieces on the walls of a 200,000-square-foot factory building.” As of this January, although the building had not yet been razed to make way for luxury apartments, many believed the demolition to be imminent.