A group of 5Pointz artists have put their emotions and experiences on canvas, reflecting the day they found their graffiti mecca hidden behind white paint.
The artists, including 5Pointz curator and CEO Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen, have come together for an exhibition called “Whitewash” at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery, located at 21-37 45th Rd., just one block away from where 5Pointz once existed.
The show, which begins Saturday, features eight 5Pointz artists, who had major pieces on the building before it was covered in white paint, and two photographers, for a total of 58 pieces.
Each artwork dives deep into the emotions and experiences each individual faced on November 19, when the owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, the Wolkoff family, ordered the building to be painted white overnight.
Gallery owner and 10 year Long Island City resident Jeffrey Leder said that although many people question why he decided to showcase an exhibit featuring aerosol art, he said he wanted the artists to be recognized and to show visitors that their works are considered art.
“It was a sad end to an era here in Long Island City and I think the story needed to be told and the best way to tell the story is to create artwork,” Leder said.
Along with Cohen, the other artists included are Auks, Cortes, Jerms, Just One, Shiro, See TF, Topaz, Zimad and photographers Orestes Gonzalez and Hans Van Rittern.
Marie-Cecile Flageul, curator of the exhibit and 5Pointz spokeswoman, said they had wanted to do a “whitewash” show and keeping it Long Island City was important.
“I think it is extremely impacting for people exiting or coming to the gallery to…see a building that is still standing after four months, so you’re putting it in context,” Flageul said.
The show served as a method of healing and letting go of pain and looking ahead to the future, she said.
Cohen, who dealt with the loss of 5Pointz and his mother all within one month from each other, said although some of his pieces express the anger and frustration he felt when he woke up November 19, the process of creating the pieces for the show was also therapeutic.
“The exhibit to me was a good closure and way to vent, so I found it helped me to relate my feelings to the people that knew of 5Pointz and are devastated by its whitewash,” Cohen said.
He took his signature light bulbs, which normally are yellow and known to be funny, and made them white for the show to depict the “ghoulish” tone of the whitewash.
One of the last pieces he finished for the exhibit was a colorful collaboration between him and artist Shiro, which shows one of the female artist’s iconic characters blowing light bulb bubbles expressing hope and a happy look into the future.
“This is how we communicate best. This is what brings us all together and it did again,” he said. “Over there the walls were what helped tie us together and here are the canvases that are tying us together.”