Morgan Avenue: Where Street Art
Energizes an Industrial Brooklyn Nabe
The New York City alternative art scene took a major hit when a five-story factory built in 1892 and occupied by the Neptune Meter Company, maker of water meters, was completely demolished in 2014. The building, in Long Island City, across Jackson Avenue from MOMA PS1, gained its celebrity status, as a centerpiece of graffiti art – an aerosol spray can art mecca long after water meter production ceased.
In the 1990’s the building owner, a Long Island developer began leasing space to artists as studio space. By 2002, a graffiti artist Jonathan Cohen penned the factory with the name 5 Pointz in relation to New York City’s five boroughs. The description was not in reference for the creative work happening in the spaces occupied by two hundred artists inside the factory but for the inspiring and imaginative graffiti art that completely engulfed every inch of the buildings exteriors.
|5 Pointz Long Island City, Queens|
Works by graffiti artists from all over the United States and the world emblazoned the building with amazing designs and incredible colors creating a sprawling graffiti-like-mural.
The exterior work began with a project called Graffiti Terminators founded by Pat Dilillo who established the Phun Phactory in 1993 at the site. Dillilo intended to remove the negative impression - crime and vandalism - long associated with graffiti art. He wanted to legitimize it and push this art form mainstream. Artists had to submit samples of their work for Dillilo to review and gain his approval before “tagging” the building.
Two forty-story apartments towers will replace 5 Pointz. Development is well underway.
The site will contain over 1,100 apartments, including 220 affordable units and 20 art studios. Construction is well underway.
With the demise of 5 Pointz I thought the city lost something special - a gritty, very urban but an innovative and visual art form. Of course when walking the High Line I see some good works. They are often affiliated with working art events organized by the High Line and others are associated with one or two Chelsea galleries adjacent to the elevated park.
There are also murals in city playgrounds and schoolyards throughout the city.
I knew pockets of interesting street art existed in the city but I lacked the time to search. In late March 2017 I saw first-hand that alternative graffiti/street art scene, or however you want to describe it, is alive and well and flourishing in at least one city neighborhood, and probably others elsewhere.
The oasis I found and “What a lucky find” encompasses roughly a twenty-plus-block span on and around Morgan Avenue in East Williamsburg, a huge industrial area of Brooklyn. I found many fun and eccentric works on many buildings on the side streets and nearby avenues of East Williamsburg. It felt as if I was walking in an outdoor museum. I returned in September and took many photos.
I only found this area with its wide array of street art because I chose not to return home via the closest subway station. Instead I opted for one further away. This was my best move of 2017.
Here is a small sample of what I saw during my three-hour tour. I have listed them by categories.
I hope you enjoy these works as much as I have.
My Home Sweet Home With Fence:
My Artisanal Studio Workshop:
My Community Center:
The Mooch (inscribed far right) and Devil with Vile
Self Portrait...New Brooklyn Hipster:
My Big nyc straycat:
All photos, except 5 Pointz photo, taken by Rudi Papiri
Article initially published December 31, 2017.
Area of Detail:
My Street Art Trail started at Olive Street, a few blocks west of Morgan.
I then walked east along Metropolitan Avenue to Morgan Avenue. At ISCP,
an international visual arts residency program and curator events center, housed
in an old factory at the corner of Metropolitan and Morgan, I turned right.
I officially began my trek here and I continued moving south along
Morgan Avenue to Thames Street, near Flushing Avenue.
Check out the side streets along Morgan. For example, Bogart, which sits one
block west of Morgan and runs parallel to it, is also full of art.
5 Pointz story link: http://www.1000thingsnyc.com/5pointz/