This morning, artists and art lovers woke up to terrible news that the aerosol arts mecca 5Pointz was painted over last night.
“I found out at 6 this morning,” said 5Pointz representative Marie Flageul, clearly shaken and clutching her cell phone as she waited for attorney Jeanine Channes to call. “This is just further proof that the Wolkoffs are bad people and that they do not respect the arts.”
The Wolkoffs are the family that owns the Long Island City building and plans to raze it to build two apartment buildings.
5Pointz founder and curator Jonathan “Meres” Cohen was busy answering phone calls and speaking with residents and members of the press as they trickled in.
“Jerry and the whole Wolkoff family will go down in history as murderers of art,” he said. “That will be their legacy forever.”
Passersby were clearly shocked, shambling past the once-graffitied building with mouths gaping.
“I can’t believe it,” one person said, tearing up. “They destroyed it. They completely killed it.”
According to Flageul and Meres, painters showed up at 1 a.m. with cherry pickers and began painting over the hundreds of art pieces that the building has accumulated over the past decade. The job appears rushed and Flageul said that when she arrived, the painters were under police protection.
“I nearly got arrested,” she said. “Meres nearly got arrested too. We’re tenants of this building and we can’t step on the property?”
Not so coincidentally, the paint job comes just days after a massive rally during which a thousand landmark applications were filled out. Meres, who with 15 other artists is suing the Wolkoffs to stop the demolition, was seeking landmark status as a last attempt to save the building from being razed and turned into luxury apartments.
The building was off-limits for the past few weeks when a Supreme Court judge granted a temporary restraining order on 5Pointz.
“That restraining order gave us the peace of mind that this wouldn’t be touched,” Flageul said. “Now look at it. This is absolutely a response to the fact that we applied for landmark status.”
The mood was bleak but 5Pointz artists and members of the community stood in solidarity and assuring one another that the fight wasn’t over. Even passing No. 7 trains blew their horns as they passed by to signal their condolences.
“This is not over,” Meres said. “I’m suing them for everything they’ve got and I won’t stop.”
The Wolkoff family reportedly painted over the building so as not to break the artists’ hearts by seeing it being brought down in December. They could not be reached
“Wasn’t that nice of him?” Flaugeul asked sarcastically.
It has yet to be determined whether permits were issued for the paint job though Meres is confident they did the work illegally.
The group will hold a candlelight vigil tonight at 5 p.m. at the 5Pointz loading dock.
“They call us the vandals,” Meres said. “They say we’re the vandals but look at this. This is vandalism. It’s art genocide.”