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On Aug. 11, 1973, a Jamaican immigrant named Clive Campbell brought two turntables and a microphone to a birthday party for his sister, Cindy, at the recreation room of the Bronx building where his family lived. According to legend, Campbell, who is better known as “DJ Kool Herc,” started manipulating the rhythmic sections of songs on vinyl records to extend the musical beats while exhorting people to dance. The blueprint for Hip-Hop (scratching, breaking and rapping) was born. On Aug. 11, 2013, DJ Kool Herc heads to 5 Pointz in Long Island City to perform in Back to the Roots, a 40th anniversary celebration of Hip-Hop.

Details: Back to the Roots, 5Pointz, 45-46 Davis St., Long Island City, Aug. 11, 5 pm, free.

Photo: 5 Pointz

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In Long Island City, the massive graffiti-covered former factory building known as 5Pointz is hovering on the brink of demolition with local politicians lining up behind David Wolkoff, the developer who wants to tear the building down. As part of Curbed’s Camera Obscura series, the site ran a heartfelt look at the building, its meaning to the community and to the thousands of artists, tourists and locals who oppose its destruction. The story is chock-a-block with revealing photos of the building and art that adorns it inside and out and up on the roof too. It is well worth a look.

Saying Farewell to Long Island City Graffiti Mecca 5Pointz [Curbed]

Photo Nathan Kensinger via Curbed

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Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has decided to support the demolition of 5Pointz, the graffiti-drenched former water meter factory in Long Island City. The developer, David Wolkoff, plans to build two towers on the site over 40 stories tall. He says the buildings will include retail space, outdoor art installations and perhaps a climbing wall and swimming pool. Because Wolkoff wants to build 1,000 units of housing, 370 more than is allowed, he needs approval from the city council and the mayor. His original plan was rejected by the community board. He then added 56 units of affordable housing. That was enough to garner the backing of the area’s city councilman Jimmy Van Bramer earlier this week. The developer appears to have changed plans again, offering to include a total of 75 units of affordable housing for seniors, veterans and residents of northwestern Queens. That apparently was enough to bring Marshall on board. Wolkoff hopes to begin demolition by the end of the year. Supporters of the building still hold out hope that the city council will block the project. A 5Pointz representative told the Daily News, “We’re going to lose the most iconic building in Queens. We welcome over 1,000 artists (annually) who can express themselves legally without damaging public property. We’ve attracted tens of thousands of visitors.”

Queens Borough President Supports Tearing Down 5Pointz to Make Way for Towers [NY Daily News]
Councilman Not Interested in Saving 5Pointz [Brownstoner Queens]
5Pointz Developer Commits to 54 Affordable Units, Artist Space [Brownstoner Queens]
Community Board 2 Votes Against 5Pointz Development Plan [Brownstoner Queens]

Photo: Patx11

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Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is against any attempt to save the 5Pointz building in Long Island City. The former factory, long a mecca for graffiti artists, is now slated for demolition. The owner, Jerry Wolkoff, plans to build two towers on the site, one 46 stories, another 41 stories. Advocates have pushed for the city to buy the building to rescue it from demolition. However, as Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City and the surrounding communities, told the Long Island City Post, “first of all, you need a willing seller and the Wolkoff family is not interested in selling. It would probably cost tens of millions—if not hundreds of millions—to buy it and renovate it… which would be a foolish expenditure of city funds.” The developer is hoping to build 1,000 units, 370 more than are allowed as of right. Community Board 2 unanimously rejected the initial plan. Since then the developer has added 54 units of affordable housing and increased the studio space that he plans to include in the new buildings from 2,000 square feet to 12,000. Van Bramer’s position on the development is important as he is likely to have sway with other city council members who ultimately must approve the project.

Van Bramer Dismissed Plans to Save 5Pointz [LIC Post]
5Pointz Developer Commits to 54 Affordable Units, Artist Space [Brownstoner Queens]
Community Board 2 Votes Against 5Pointz Development Plan [Brownstoner Queens]

Photo: Harlan Harris

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The Long Island City Parent’s Group has come up with an interesting proposal for LIC landmark 5 Pointz, the graffiti-covered warehouse its owners plan to demolish, although it’s still unclear what’s going up in its place. The group is proposing that artists bring their graffiti to “the bare grey walls” around P.S. 1, and, well, stop fighting to save the 5 Pointz building altogether. Here’s a good chunk of what they said in their most recent email newsletter:

Was it really necessary that angry activists stop an environmentally conscious developer from building more space for people with jobs, incomes, degrees, and families? Can’t the graffiti move diagonally across the street right onto the walls of another art-friendly building owner, our own MOMA’s P.S. 1? The bare grey walls surrounding P.S. 1 like a proto-Reaganesque Cold War bunker would provide tens of thousands of square feet unadorned by windows and stairs. The hundreds of running feet of concrete walls along Jackson Avenue and 46th Avenue are highly visible to all folks who track to Queens to experience modern art, munch in the M.Wells-managed school cafeteria, and dance (or mostly hang out) at the sultry warm-up parties. Could there be a better synergy than between MOMA’s high concept art and mind-numbing street art of the aerosol kind?
Advice to aerosol activists: advocate as aggressively for the right to splash, splatter, and spray onto the MOMA-walls as you agitated against the development plans. This “concrete” solution would provide a new, better, lasting home for your graffiti: more space, more visibility, more foot traffic and maybe the museum could even carve out some office space for Jonathan Cohen’s graffiti group?
No sane developer will let artists into a building after what happened to the Wolkoff family. They were generous (and a bit clever) by parceling up brittle floors with drafty windows into artist studios and renting the spaces at rates that few real businesses would be willing to pay. But no good deed goes unpunished and the graffiti activists who had used the building facade for free are now paying back their benefactors by blocking the plans and appropriating the building.
I personally know half a dozen owners of commercial loft spaces in Long Island City who will rent to everybody but artists. After what happened to David Wolkoff there will be more.

Thoughts?

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It looks like 5 Pointz is going to leave ’em rhyming. This Saturday, the world famous graffiti Mecca, aka “The Institute of Higher Burning,” will hold a five-hour tribute to hip hop with live performances by New York and New Jersey rappers. With DJ Raydar Ellis as the host, expect such acts as Rabbi Darkside, Elijah Black, Delvebeer and Dax Medina. Also scheduled are label showcases from ThemRecordings and Bucktown USA. Countless taggers from as far away as Europe and Asia have displayed their work at this 200,000-square-foot outdoor space since its founding in 1993. Recently, the property owners announced plans to convert the Long Island City venue into luxury housing that might include a 41-story residential tower, a 47-story tower, an indoor rock-climbing wall, a simulated golf course and barbecue areas. Details: Hip Hop Fest, June 8, 2 pm – 7 pm, 5 Pointz, 45-46 Davis Street, LIC.

Photo from big cities bright lights

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5Pointz, one of the borough’s biggest tourist attractions, is not long for this world, reports The Daily News. Plans to tear down the former water meter factory, whose facade has been a showcase for some of the biggest graffiti artists in the city, and build two 40-plus-floor residential towers are moving ahead. “It’s sad for the area,” said Rob Mackay the Queens Economic Development Corp. “We’re going to lose a steady flow of tourism.” How do you feel about this loss to the borough? Will it indeed be a blow to the tourism industry?

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Photo courtesy of Untapped Cities

There are online marketplaces for just about everything. Of course, there is Brooklyn based Etsy, the marketplace for handmade  and related items that has reached worldwide scale. There is also Manhattan based SideTour, the online marketplace for ‘experiences’. Experiences fall in to a very wide range of activities from yoga classes, to jazz sessions, to culinary excursions.. to tours of places like 5Pointz.

The 5Pointz tour is led by Meres One, the founder of 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center and curator of its outdoor gallery, and they happen periodically. On Sidetour’s site there are currently three scheduled, though as of today two are sold out.

Untapped Cities recently covered one of Meres One’s tours, it includes lots of photos. Take a look at the pics — and go on a tour yourself as time may be short.

5 Pointz to Be Demolished by September 2013 [Curbed]
“Rep Your Style” breakdancing video at graffiti mecca 5Pointz in LIC [QNYC]