Tracing the history of The Institute Of Higher Burning back to the early 90's as the Phun Phactory, one can only imagine the countless hands that have gripped aerosol cans and other artifacts to make their individual pieces of art living facts. In fact, even with the whitewash effect in effect recently, the defiant have protested by retagging the building as of this writing. Make no mistake, the graffiti may be gone, but the spirit behind the artistic expression lives on.
The curator for the majestic urban museum, Jonathan Cohen, is known to the aerosol world as meres One, and he took on the astronomical responsibility of transforming the defunct for a year Phun Phactory into what the borough of Queens (and the world for that matter) came to know and love. Artists from near and far trekked to the location to make a graffiti-laced mark on the cavernous walls. Names within the urban art world such as Cope2, TATS CRU, Tracy 168, Stay High 149, and many others tagged, bombed, and painted from their souls on the globally-recognized largest aerosol art center on the planet. This undertaking of a grand and, truthfully, global scale should NOT go unrecognized. Too much has been vest and invested in making artist dreams come true at this location. The same ol' story of gentrification and development is now ready to take its toll on an old building to some, but a monument to countless others.
Words really can't and won't do justice to what 5 Pointz means to the graffiti world. Hip Hop is always a target (negatively speaking) and is used by commercial outfits for THEIR gains. What about OUR gains? Historic Hip Hop landmarks such as 45-46 Davis Street, 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, 205th Street and Hollis Avenue and other hotspots in the Big Apple and beyond are within the crosshairs that P.E. classically showcase as a logo. Public enemies to the so-called public interest is what our culture is recognized as, to this day. Most may not know, or care, about the happenings with 5 Pointz. That is a shame indeed, because creative expression should not be swept under the rug or whitewashed. Should we tear down the Washington Monument in to make way for US Highway 1 expansion? Should we blast the Gateway Arch in St. Louis in order to provide space for an overpriced condominium community? Let that marinate for a moment.
Where do we go from here? Let's hope that Hip Hop can move forward in a constructive manner and provide other outlets for creative expression in NY and elsewhere. Graffiti Alley in Harm City, Venice Graffiti Pit in Venice Beach, Free Expression Tunnel in Raleigh, Graffiti Underground in Philly (I can go on and on not only here in the United Snakes, oops, United States, but worldwide) are examples of a thriving culture that cultivates graffiti as a viable, visible form of expression. 5 Pointz is still in its physical form, albeit naked. Jerry Wolkoff, the property landlord for the iconic location, has the green light to move forward with his grand plans for two apartment buildings (41 and 45 stories high, per reports). 5 Pointz is whitewashed until its demolition, but colorful images imbedded in the hearts and minds of those in the know will last for many more years. If you don't know the true history, visit the website that houses photos and info for 5 Pointz: www.5ptz.com.
I don't want this whitewashed image to be the lasting memory for The Institute Of Higher Burning.
5 Pointz should forever be remembered and revered as a safe haven for artistically-inclined and like-minded people to network, discuss, bond, fellowship, and ultimately create.