Leder Gallery: 2135 45th Road, on the street of the Court Street #7 and G subway station.
Contributing Artists: Auks, Cortes, Hans Von Rittern, Jerms, Meres One, Orestes Gonzalez, Poem, Shiro, See TF, Topaz, Zimad
“Whitewash, is an answer to the violent act of G&M realty on November 19th, 2013 in Long Island City Queens. Overnight thousands of murals adorning the building known as 5 Pointz were destroyed. 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.
Bringing together a cluster of resident graffiti artists and two Queens photographers, the exhibition enables the artists to express their true feelings and thought process since loosing their work to a white layer of paint, and their home to the pressing demands of real estate development. For the first time since the whitewash we will witness how affected this collective is by being eclipsed from their 11 years home.
The works in Whitewash aspire to such: Laying feelings on canvas, and letting go of the pain, the show brings together artworks that can be interpreted as confession, lessons, or reflection but also aspirations and hopes.
Whitewash is an obvious requiem for 5 Pointz the building but also maybe the beginning of a rebirth of 5 Pointz the community and its true core: the people.“
Thanks to despicable billionaire mayor Bloomberg New York City’s record homeless shelter population continues to grow at an alarming rate – up 19% percent in the past year alone. And this does not even include the thousands of New Yorkers still displaced by Hurricane Sandy, many of whom comprise extremely low-income households.
In total the homeless shelter population under billionaire mayor Bloomberg rose by a staggering 61% percent and the number of homeless families has increased 73% percent. During Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, New York City homelessness has increased both in absolute numbers and at a higher rate than under previous mayors Koch, Dinkins, or Giuliani. One can only hope our new Mayor DeBlassio and our new administration can rectify these horrific numbers.
Photo of the day: THE DIVINE AUDACITY ~ CATHEDRAL IN NEW YORK CITY TO START CHARGING ADMISSION – Over the weekend New York City’s gothic treasure, St. John the Divine had the ‘divine’ audacity/necessity to send a memorandum out to the tour guide industry advising us that as of February 1st of this year tour groups will be charged admission. Brace yourselves – $5.00 (4€ euros) – to enter a church! The 9/11 memorial charges a cover charge of $2.00.
For the many, many of you that I have taken there on my tours, you well know it is one of the mostly undiscovered treasures of the city. They are fascinated to see the unfinished towers and dome. They love the story of the center doors only opening three times a year for Easter, the blessing of the bicycles and the blessing of the animals. To see the World Trade Center Towers on the columns in front begins to fascinate the wonderful mixing of old and new history inside.
Inside there is always a sense of awe. I advise my guests to take a brochure and put a donation in the donation box at the entrance. You then pass wonderful hand carved 15th century German wooden choir stalls and enter this magnificent world of surprises. The fireman’s memorial, the American history stained glass window that has the prototype of the first television of 1926 in it as well as movie stars Jack Benny and Mary Livingston. Another stained glass window shows the sinking of the Titanic. I tell the touching story of how the cathedral cared for the AIDS patients of NYC when no one else dared to as we look at the AIDS memorial. I show them the plaque dedicated to the horrible bookstore fire that damaged the church in 2001, ruining the organ’s pipes for 10 years. I show them the ‘zipper’ of the church marking the finished and unfinished part of the cathedral. I show them such wonderful worldwide gifts as the 17th century Barberini tapestries, the golden chests donated by the King of Siam, the urns given by the emperor of Japan, the Keith Haring graffiti triptych in the Asian chapel donated by John Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono. I lead them through the 7 chapels dedicated to the main 7 languages spoken in NYC in 1892. I take them up near the altar for one of the most breathtaking views of the front stained glass window containing 10,000 pieces of glass, 40 feet in diameter. I show them menorahs on the altar as well, explaining the church welcomes all faiths.
Well – they welcome all faiths, but they now do not welcome groups unless you pay to get into the house of god. Never at no time in New York has there been a house of god that has had the need to charge admission into what I thought is the house of the people. St. John the Divine is desperate for money, last year having sold off precious adjacent land to the church and allowing god awful high rise apartments to be built, therefore obstructing the rays of sunlight into the north side of the church. Now they are obstructing the tourists of New York.
As a fellow tour guide Tom said: “What they really, really, need is help to grow their endowment. Presumably they have an endowment, like Universities and Museums. With a massive old building that must have massive maintenance costs, there is no longer a massive congregation as in the old days to keep up the place. That’s where smart and competent money-managers take hold of the finances of the institution and go on a major campaign to grow a big endowment, sufficient for maintenance. This is how Carnegie Hall was saved. The famed Koch Brothers have contributed literally hundreds of millions of dollars: $100,000,000 EACH to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, to Lincoln Center and The American Museum of Natural History, total $300,000,000. So, who’s in charge of this program at The Cathedral?”
They are nickel and diming, almost literally, a huge problem. It will have the most unfortunate and unintended consequence of keeping some likely visitors O-U-T. The sudden sticker shock of $5.00 will leave many at the door. I can understand starting at $2.00 – but $5.00?! A full bus of 55 guests would cost $275!! The biggest losers here are the young visitors to New York, the student tour groups. My student tour groups from Virginia, Tennessee, the Carolinas and all along the coast. They are already on a tight budget, eating at McDonalds to save money on the big trip from their home town. They enter St. John the Divine starry-eyed and filled with wonderment at this magnificent gothic structure, the likes of which most will not get to see unless they are privileged enough to go to Europe. Sadly, it is simply adding itself to the list of those famous cathedrals of Europe all forced to do the same out of necessity. Notre Dame in Paris charges €3/$4.10 to see the treasury of riches. The Basilica in Rome charges 12€ euros/$16.00. The Cologne/Köln Dom in Germany charges 4€ Euros/$5.00. Seville cathedral in Spain charges 8€ euros/$10 dollars. St. Paul’s cathedral in London charges 16€ euros/$21.85. The wonderful art-filled little adobe churches in poor Tucson, Arizona do not charge at all. St. Patrick’s cathedral on the wealthy Fifth Avenue here in NYC does not need to charge. St. John the Divine in New York now wants to be added to the world wide list of those charging admission.
Perhaps St. John the Divine got the idea from the very recent surprising November 2013 decision of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. to charge $10/7 € euros admission and perhaps I should feel I am getting a bargain. (In comparison, The Museum of Natural History’s full price adult admission charge is $22/16€ euros). But is this the beginning of a possible disturbing and disheartening trend in the famed churches New York City? Where the declining parish necessitates charging at the door? Most of the churches in Harlem are only surviving on the Sunday gospel tour dollars. It is no longer ‘the fashion’ to go to church in most large cities, therefore the declining membership results in declining donations. These grand cathedrals were built for the masses – church going masses who today – are tourists. A sad trend.
I am only a New York City tour guide and have no idea how this cathedral functions. But, what is needed at St. John the Divine is a professional, knowledgeable, experienced, committed, well paid, position of fundraiser to grow a serious endowment. Considering their list of well connected parishioners, their current plan seems like nothing more than a high school-level accounting class solution…if that.
Here is the memo:
To: Professional Guides, Tour Operators, and Guest Lecturers
From: The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Department of Public Education and Visitor Services
Please note the following updates in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine’s visiting group policy, effective February 1, 2014.
• Self-guided groups are encouraged to schedule their visit at least two weeks in advance. Groups are defined as ten or more visitors. Scheduling requests can be made through a web site request form, or through the Public Education Office by phone or email below. The group will receive confirmation of a one-hour time period to visit the Cathedral.
• Group arrivals are permitted between 9am and 5pm daily.
• Groups should enter through the Cathedral’s southern door at Amsterdam Avenue. The group leader or guide must check in at the Visitor Center upon arrival.
• Payment of the discounted group admission of $5 per person must be made upon arrival. One group leader or guide receives complimentary admission.
• Groups that do not pay group admission may only enter the Cathedral as individual visitors.
• The Cathedral accepts cash, checks, and Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Checks should be made payable to The Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
• Tour companies are encouraged to join the Cathedral’s voucher program to obviate admission payment on arrival in exchange for discounts and quarterly billing. To join the voucher program or receive more information please contact the Public Education Office.
• Scheduled groups will be given access to the entire Cathedral, including restrooms, as well as brochures for their participants. Confirmed groups will be alerted of changes to access as soon as possible. Groups that schedule to arrive during times of limited access will be notified in their confirmation.
• Late or early group arrivals will be accommodated as best as possible, however we do not
guarantee access to all parts of the Cathedral.
The extremely cold 10°F degree weather added to the morbid feeling in the air. Only a few of the die hard regulars showed up including Meres One and Marie Flageul to join co-owners Maureen and Salah for a final round of drinks. To my surprise, as I arrived I was greeted by water dripping down from the ceiling. The frigid temperatures had burst the pipes and was flooding the bar. The water had been shut off but it was still ‘raining’ inside the bar. The water from above had damaged the juke box with Meres’ disco favorites causing the sound to go from high to low every few seconds only adding to the eerie feel of the night.
During the evening Marie stepped out for her usual cigarette, as she stood in front of the bar she observed a pigeon flying towards the building to seek refuge form the cold, and seconds before it could reach the building, it simply fell out of the sky succumbing to hypothermia. Marie’s mission was to rescue the bird. We got a box, lined it with tissue paper and gently placed it in the box. It did not even resist. We placed it in the back hoping it would warm up. (It was in desperate need of sleep as well.) Every so often we would check to see if Marie’s pigeon was reviving, it barely was, but towards the end of the night was fluffing itself up, a hopeful sign. As a final act of kindness, Meres and Marie took the pigeon to their garage to let it warm up and revive. Two days later it flew off to join the world again.
Meres and Marie and all the fantastic 5 Pointz crew are greatly symbolized by our little pigeon – we may be down, but with a little help from our friends – we are not out. Maureen and Salah will reopen at a new nearby location at 21-59 44th Drive, off of 21st Street soon. 5 Pointz will rise again like a phoenix (or our pigeon) and with the creative force of the artists and minds behind Meres and Marie, look out for a brighter and bolder future for Pointz! !
Photo of the day: PERSON(S) OF THE YEAR – DONNY MOSS AND THE TEAM OF JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN AND MARIE FLAGEUL
Photo of the day: PERSON(S) OF THE YEAR – DONNY MOSS AND THE TEAM OF JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN AND MARIE FLAGEUL
– I have not ever had such a hard decision to come up with just one person to say they had most affected my life and the lives of the people around them. In such a tumultuous political year it has to be three people, Meres and Marie acting as one force. And by NO means choosing three people does it diminish in any way how important these three powerful people are.
I feel can be held responsible for almost single handedly destroying the political career of mega powerful New York councilwoman and bully Christine Quinn. She is a bully that represented every horrible thing that Mayor/dictator Bloomberg had done to destroy New York City in his 12 years in office. It is Quinn that alone saw to it that the laws were ‘changed’ so that Bloomberg could run for a third term in 2009 against the will of the people. With that, the slaughter of the middle class and it’s neighborhoods continued. This took New York City from 3 classes of citizens: lower, a strong middle and always upper class to a tapestry of investment bankers, real-estate developers, and Russian oligarchs. Then Donny’s release of a 2009 YouTube video exposing her two-faced betrayal of her own (she’s a lesbian) gay community and her horrific anti-animal rights stances exposed her to New York City. The most important and powerful was his documentary “Christine Quinn – Behind the Smile.” Most people thought Donny was nuts, an animals rights fanatic. Well that changed quickly as his persistent voice released more and more videos and more and more people began to listen.
When Gray Line was forcing the live tour guides (me) out of our jobs in favor of pre-recorded tours, because of a Quinn fake anti-noise bill, Donny sought me out to let me know of his fight against Quinn. I dismissed him as a fanatic, after all, Quinn couldn’t possibly be THAT horrible . . . she was worse. I listened to Donny and I jumped on board with Donny’s fight, the tour guides joined and my big mouth got many people to join Donny. Wonderful, wonderful loving animal rights activist groups and anyone that hated Bloomberg and wanted to save NYC joined us. We protested at everyone of her public appearances and taunted her mercilessly. Our numbers grew, as did our budget. We handed out flyers during rush hour at subway stations, bus and ferry terminals. My mother was one of his staunchest supporters, never leaving her house without Donny’s literature to hand out in the neighborhood. People began to listen and the animal rights people, the minorities, the middle class and passionate celebrities formed an army. ABQ = Anyone But Quinn! People like Cynthia Nixon, Susan Sarandon and the entertainment community brought their fame, money and passion to the public’s eye. These people already hated Quinn, but I insist that is Donny’s persistent, passionate, intelligent voice from the beginning opened everyone’s eyes. Quinn’s poll numbers began to plummet from leader of the mayoral race to 3rd or 4th place, week after week.
On November 5, 2013, Bill de Blasio won the mayoral election by a landslide, receiving over 73% of the vote and will become the first Democratic mayor of the city in nearly 20 years. Thank you Donny Moss for giving me my city back!
M+M, JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN and MARIE CECILE FLAGEUL:
A forceful team, together they ARE 5 Pointz/ “the institute of higher burning“, the curators of the leading world’s graffiti and street mural art museum and mecca that was destroyed by the cruel vindictive whitewashing of the building in the middle of the night on November 19 of this year by Gerry Wolkoff. Words almost fail me to describe the incredible joy and privilege I have of being their friends. My heart is so deeply full of the pleasure they have brought to the entire world through their tireless efforts to have made 5 Pointz bigger and better year after year. I had come for years as an enthralled neighbor to support the saving of 5 Pointz. Then it then dawned on me that as a tour guide, this was the ultimate New York experience to bring my guests there as a surprise last stop. Over the years I had gained Meres’ and Marie’s trust by never betraying them or their art, by never pretending to be anyone else but someone who passionately loved this mesmerizing art. I thrived on the surprised looks on my tourist guest’s faces as they approached the loading dock and where overwhelmed by the fantastic colors and phantasmagorical art work. I felt like a million dollars sharing this with them.
Marie fiercely defended the illegal filming on the site, but saw to it that has been included in countless films, music videos and blogs. Meres saw to it that fellow writers and artists respected the sight and oversaw all the murals that would dazzle your imagination, resulting in world wide recognition as the premier street art museum. 200,000-square-feet (19,000 m2) of dazzling imagination from all over the world. Meres’ signature light bulbs are now recognized all over the world. Did you know that if look up any travel guide, 5 Pointz is listed as the #1 thing to see in Queens? – you can thank the brilliance of Meres and Marie for that. Meres’ 5 Pointz tours via SideTours was their #1 attraction and would sell out rapidly when new dates were announced. You felt so very special taking his tour, plain and simple = it was just so fucking cool! New York City owes them a big commission check for all the tourist money they brought to New York, Queens and especially Long Island City.
But one of the most powerful gifts they have given to so many and I have been lucky enough to receive, is their bringing together one of the most diverse group of people from across the city and the globe who otherwise never would have met and shared such passion, joy and fun. Art unites, art opens your eyes and hearts, art can even save lives. Meres and Marie united the world through the brilliance of Meres’ artful vision and Marie’s passion. To say “thank you et merci” almost doesn’t seem enough . . .
Photos of the day: MODERN DAY HITLER VANDALIZES ‘DEGENERATE ART’ AT 5 POINTZ:
Tuesday November 19, 2013 is a day I will not long forget. It was a twist of events and cruel fate that brought many powers of good and evil together.
My dear friend and fellow tour guide Tom Orzo and I picked up 6 German tourist guests at the Queen Mary 2 at the Brooklyn piers for a 3 hour city tour. Normally Tom and I end our tour with a surprise visit to 5Pointz. Since we were coming from Brooklyn, Tom (doing the driving) insisted we make 5Pointz our first fateful stop. At 10:45 we were heading down Jackson Avenue when Tom kept calling out “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”. I thought it was his over-reaction to a smaller building in front of the Graffiti Museum that was being torn down. My back was to the museum, I’m facing my German guests telling them how extraordinary a site they are about to see. Now I realize their faces seemed odd and puzzled, so I turn around to the shock of seeing men on high cranes slopping white paint all over the building, obliterating 12 years of spectacular intricate art. I quickly got out to see if I recognized anyone.
I ran back to the van and we sped to the main loading dock/entrance to the building. And there it was, a vandalized, obliterated work of art – 12+ years destroyed. I ripped open the door to the van and ran into the arms of curator Marie Flaguel and held her as tightly as I could. I cried deep from the gut. I couldn’t stop, I could not speak, I kept gasping for air. I was afraid to let go for fear of seeing Marie’s face. Finally I had to. “It’s all gone…” she said as tears streamed down her face. The owner Jerry Wolkoff, the same man who had asked the artists to paint the murals on his building, had hired non union thugs to destroy over 1,500 pieces of art outside and even throughout the entire inside of the building. Murals that would take your breath away now had erratic white brush strokes all over them. Oddly enough, the greater more powerful murals – had extra coats of white paint over them, it was deliberate, fearful, vindictive and hateful. How do you find words in a moment when you realize it was one of the greatest mass desecrations of art in the 21st Century. An art genocide.
As Marie was filling me in on what happened, one of my German guests, Andrea Pröscholdt-Krulich, ran over in tears. “Why?! Warum?!” she kept asking. She was quite shaken. You see – her son was a graffiti artist who had recently committed suicide. She had planned on this trip to New York to visit 5Pointz to pay homage to her son. She never thought that a ‘routine Manhattan city tour’ would have included our surprise visit here. Andrea and my guests were stunned at the amount of press around us and the unexplainable goings on. They looked on in wonderment – here they were in ‘free’ America’, in ‘progressive’ New York and they were watching Hitler-like tactics unfold before their stunned eyes. Some of my older guests were survivors of World War II. I had to get back on the coach and explain what was happening. Then I realized something. I was with a group of Germans, some of whom had been through a time in Germany when Hitler from 1936 to 1937 rounded up all “modern” art – “Entartete Kunst“ and declared it ‘degenerate’ and had it all destroyed. Over 5,000 works were seized, including 1,052 by Emil Nolde, 759 by Heckel, 639 by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and 508 by Max Beckman, as well as smaller numbers of works by such artists as Alexander Archipenko, Chagall, James Ensor, Matisse, Picasso and even Van Gogh. What Jerry Wolkoff did was no different!
But we were not there to mourn the destruction of the museum, their clock was ticking and I was there paid to give a tour. We continued with our tour, but every time we came to a red light or got stuck in traffic, the conversation always went back to the disbelief of 5Pointz. We dropped off our guests and I headed to a candle light vigil that was held at 5pm.
The vigil’s atmosphere was like a tomb, what had been vibrant was dead. At night the ‘white” was even more ‘deadly’ and eerie. People kept coming, looking up in silent tearful disbelief and anger. Poster boards were taped onto the building for us to leave our messages. The purpose of the posters is – we will never ever again grace his walls with a single piece of art, line, scribble name or even a dot. Wolkoff had the audacity to claim he too cried. He claimed he had done this so the artist wouldn’t have had the pain of seeing their art work torn down over a period of months. This scumbag reasoning is because he was afraid of the momentum we were gaining. On last Sunday’s rally, when 5Pointz was packed, Marie and Meres (co-curators) had gathered over 1,000 signed petitions in ONE day, to have the building land marked and saved. The owner Wolkoff cleverly erased the value of the building. Let us also not forget, the approval of the two twin glass towers that he plans to build on the same spot were approved by the weasel of a lying two-faced councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, the lowest form of politician there is: big smiling child like innocent face, with his hand holding a knife behind his back, ready to strike for his financial gain. Wolkoff and Bramer – greed is the intoxicant but karma is the bitch.
So joining the ranks now of Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh are artists Onur Dinc, Esteban Del Valle, Meres One, Spidertag, Kidlew, Kkade, Rubin, Aka Shiro, Veronique Barrilot, Contort, Jekl and Dyzer5, Bisco, Bishop203, Just One, Leias, Zeso, and Zimad, Lord Roc, Bisc1, one of my favorites Carlos “See TF” Game and so, so many, many more. Who is anyone to say they aren’t the next Keith Harring, Basquiat, or Matisse? It is a knife in the soul of a fading New York.