By Bill Parry
The artists from 5Pointz will explore the heartache brought on by the destruction of their world famous graffiti mecca just two blocks away from its ghostly shell.
The Jeffrey Leder Gallery, at 21-37 45th Road, will open a unique exhibit called Whitewash April 5 featuring original works from nine graffiti artists and two photographers, all created following the infamous whitewashing of their artwork in November.
5Pointz owners Gerry and David Wolkoff ordered workers to paint over the graffiti mecca during the overnight hours of Nov. 19 following a favorable ruling from a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge that allowed them to prepare the warehouse complex, at 22-44 Jackson Ave., for demolition scheduled for this spring.
The Wolkoffs will build two residential, high-rise towers in its place.
“Being awakened by that phone call and alerted to what was happening that morning, I would have never expected the emotional impact it had on us,” 5Pointz artist spokeswoman Marie Cecil Flageul said. “In the months and weeks that followed there was a need to do some kind of group therapy — that is how the project came about.”
Gallery owner Jeffrey Leder was lamenting the loss of the landmark as well.
“I was affected quite a bit by the whitewashing. I always watched people’s reactions to the graffiti from the No. 7 subway. I used to sit in the Court Square Diner just looking at the art,” he said. “I’m invested in and love Long Island City and I realized how much a part 5Pointz was.”
The Jeffrey Leder Gallery is home to traditional painting and photography and has never hosted street art in its 10 years in Long Island City.
“Yes, this is something very different, no doubt,” Leder said. “I just wanted them to have one last collective project before they move on with their lives.”
Leder decided to reach out to Cecil Flageul and curator Meres One.
“I was an observer and an appreciator, but at age 68 I am not in their world,” Leder said. “ That is why I asked Marie to curate the exhibition.”
The 5Pointz artists did have a show at the Gold Coast Gallery, in Great Neck, L.I., over this past winter, but it was from previous works from their own collections.
“This project was all part of a closure process. We also needed to show how the whitewashing affected human beings with feelings,” Cecil Flageul said. “The exhibit will be a public conversation about what we felt, the truest close-up on the feelings we experienced. It’s a story of pain, sadness and anger at times and reflection, an epic of an art community and its home coming apart under the pressure of economical trends and waves of gentrification.”
Leder said his gallery would feature a store for the first time, selling the works of the artists during the show’s duration from April 5 to June 8. He added that the artwork is powerful.
Cecil Flageul calls it a grieving process.
“Every artist, every piece is personal. I pushed them to bare their emotions in their work and it was excruciating for some,” she said. “It will be bittersweet the night of the opening because we’re leaving Long Island City and moving to Brooklyn.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.