Friday, May 23, 2014

Art Genocide

For years, empty warehouses in Long Island City, Queens served as canvas for graffiti artists from around the world. I visited this area numerous times when I lived here, talking to artists and photographing their beautiful and unique works of art.

This winter, the owners of the warehouses whitewashed the entire area, preparing to renovate the buildings into high rise apartments. Block after block, thick, broad brush strokes of white are slashed across layers and layers of color.  Chipped paint curls back from the recesses of walls and splashes of paint, a rainbow of life, remain strewn across the sidewalk. 

Every now and then, a faint outline of a face or a figure, a finger poking out beneath the stark whiteness, a tree branch jutting forward across the wall, is all that remains of an area that was once so alive and rich, a prism of endless color and energy.

The white walls leave me breathless and sad, feeling empty and betrayed.
Perhaps a more open owner might have capitalized on the value of marketing "art apartments", where every day, the facade of the building you live in changes, a canvas for creativity. But alas, now all that remains of the thousands of artists who spent thousands of hours sharing their passions and talents, are streaks of white slashed hastily over what were incredible works of art.

Seeing the destruction first hand, even writing this now, I feel angry and betrayed. I wish I had been here this winter when the walls were painted over, to stand witness to the art genocide. 

I find a small stone that is dusted with blue paint. I pick it up, hold it in my hand and gently tuck it into my pocket. I will take this rock home with me and put it on my desk among other treasures I hold dear, a reminder that the beauty of 5 Pointz lives on within me.

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