It’s the law link-o-rama

Chip Thomas aka Jetsonorama mural in Bushwick.

Coincidentally, today’s links all revolve around the law…

  • It looks like Starbucks ripped off Maya Hayuk‘s work, and now she’s suing. You might be thinking, “Is Starbucks really ripping her off, or are there just some similarities? A coincidence isn’t impossible. Just try Googling ‘abstract geometric bright colors’ and see what pops up.” Except that ad agency 72andSunny contacted Hayuk to license her work for a Starbucks Frappuccino campaign, and she declined their offer. Now, work remarkably similar to Hayuk’s is appearing in Frappuccino ads worldwide. Plus, Hayuk cites specific paintings of her’s that the campaign rips off. So yes, clearly Starbucks and 72andSunny are in the wrong here morally. Legally speaking though, does she have a case? Wired has a great article on the uphill battle that Hayuk faces.
  • The Detroit police want to arrest Shepard Fairey for some wheatpastes that he allegedly put up back in May.
  • There is now a second 5Pointz lawsuit. This time, specific artists are suing the 5Pointz property owner for whitewashing their work. Now, we could argue whether or not those individual murals on 5Pointz qualify for protection under the Visual Artists Rights Act (an important question that this article covers in detail), but there’s a larger issue here: With this lawsuit, the artists are shooting themselves (and muralists in general) in the foot. I’m now disinclined to work with any of the artists in this lawsuit, and I suspect others will be too. I don’t want to tell a property owner, “Here’s a great artist who will paint a stunning mural for you, but if you ever remove the mural, they might sue you.” And if I’m a property owner and I hear about this lawsuit, I’m a lot less likely to put any murals on my property. VARA is an important law. It protects artists. But these artists aren’t using it responsibly, and that means consequences for all of us.
  • The Bushwick Daily has a must-read piece on the billboards that have begun to infest The Bushwick Collective. The neighborhood is transitioning from a mural hub to a new Times Square. It’s extremely lucrative for property owners, but detrimental to the surrounding artwork and the neighborhood vibe. So what are property owners to do? As Jordan Seiler notes, no reasonable property owner is going to turn down $24,000 per year to have a billboard on their wall, so the answer is regulation. If we, as a society, decide not to allow billboards in public space, or at least in certain neighborhoods, then those neighborhoods can have murals instead. Because of Little Italy’s status as a historic district, property owners cannot slap up billboards on every available surface. That’s part of why The L.I.S.A. Project NYC is able to get so many great walls. Maybe all of NYC, or at least Bushwick, should get the same protection.
  • Speaking of The Bushwick Collective, it’s nice to see them relaxing their unofficial rules barring political murals (where they can still get permission to paint). Chip Thomas aka Jetsonorama installed a stirring mural in Bushwick just in time for the 4th of July (shown above). The Huffington Post has the story behind the piece.

Photo by Chip Thomas

5Pointz buffed, it’s over

5Pointz on November 19th
5Pointz on November 19th

The bulk of the historical legal graffiti spot 5Pointz was unexpectedly buffed an ugly white yesterday. A sad day, for sure. Merez and Marie, who ran the space for years, put up a hell of a fight to save the space, but this was a long time coming. At the end of the day, the property owners want to knock down the building to replace it with luxury apartments, and it’s their property. Were their cultural and historical justifications for saving 5Pointz? Certainly. But the legal arguments were never very strong so far as I could tell. I’ll be forever grateful to Merez and Marie for fighting long enough for me to see 5Pointz, but now I guess it’s time for the next step.

For more on this news, Hyperallergic and The New York Times have articles on the buffing and and Gothamist has a piece on Jay Edlin aka Terror161’s opinion that the end of 5Pointz is not the end of the world.

Photo by WarmSleepy

Toofly and Meres at 5Pointz


Recently, Toofly and Meres collaborated on this piece at the Queens graffiti mecca 5Pointz. These New York City natives were introduced to graffiti at young ages from growing up around it, and both gained experience transitioning their graffiti work to gallery pieces after attending two of New York’s prestigious art schools (Toofly attended SVA and Meres attended FIT). Both have since gone on to have successful art careers which incorporate their love of graffiti; Meres is the curator of all the murals at 5Pointz and Toofly has been involved in projects such as starting her own fashion collection.




Toofly X Meres 5Pointz 2013

Photos courtesy of Toofly

Semor, Onur, Wes21 and Kkade bring European flavor to 5Pointz

Semor and KKade at 5Pointz
Semor and KKade at 5Pointz

German graffiti master Semor — who had painted at 5Pointz last year — returned to NYC earlier this month with three amazingly talented Swiss artists: Onur, Wes21 and Kkade. A standout is the mural — fusing elements of surrealism, photorealism and graffiti — that the four fashioned together.

Wes 21 and Onur at work
Wes 21 and Onur at work
Posing with Meres, 5Pointz founder and curator
Posing with Meres (second to left), 5Pointz founder and curator
The completed mural
The completed mural

 Photos by Lois Stavsky

Weekend link-o-rama

El Mac

First week of school down. Just a boatload more to go. Here’s what I’ve been checking out to procrastinate doing homework:

Photo by unusualimage

5Pointz: Paradise “Not Quite” Lost

Long Island City’s renowned graffiti mecca 5Pointz is one-of-a-kind, as its devotees span cultural backgrounds, nationalities, social classes and ages with their love of expressive aerosol art. Visiting today, we would never know that the threat of closure looms. Writers from Australia, Poland, and Spain, as well as locals, were at work on new walls, and tourists and sightseers were everywhere.  It is difficult to imagine this city without 5Pointz. Instead of becoming the site of an apartment complex as its developer is planning, it could ideally evolve into a museum that would provide an outlet and a showcase for the talent and creative energy that continues to find its way there. And as it has in the past, it should continue to serve as a valuable resource for educators and students. When we asked Meres, the tireless force behind 5Pointz’ success, what we can do to help preserve 5Pointz, he urged us to sign the petition A sampling of what we saw today follows:

Ego Crew, Madrid; photo by Lenny Collado
Meres, Cortes, Zeso; NYC & Paris; photo by Lois Stavsky
Samp, NYC: photo by Lenny Collado
Monstrinho & FlyPelicanFly of the Get Vicious Collective; NYC, photo by Lois Stavsky

From Down Under to Long Island City: Owen Dippie and Beastman

Although I haven’t yet made it to New Zealand or Australia, they’ve come to me — thanks to 5Pointz, Long Island City’s graffiti Mecca. Last year, it introduced me to the masterful photorealistic murals created by New Zealand’s Owen Dippie and, more recently, to Australia’s Beastman’s wondrous geometric designs.

Owen Dippie aka OD does Nas; completed in fall, 2010 and still up @ 5Pointz, photo by Lois Stavsky
Owen Dippie, Martha Cooper & Futura in Chelsea shoolyard, 2010, photo by Lois Stavsky
Beastman @ 5Pointz, spring 2011, photo by Naomi Shore
Beastman, close-up, photo by Dani Reyes Mozeson

ka and his wondrous murals

There is something magical about ka’s murals.  After I spotted one in Chelsea last year, I kept on returning to it whenever I was in the neighborhood.  The one he painted in the rain at last year’s Meeting of Styles at 5Pointz is now gone, but another amazing piece has taken its place.  And along with his girlfriend MTK, he has NYC pretty much covered with stickers.
In Chelsea
Meeting of Styles @ 5Pointz
New @ 5Pointz
With MTK in the East Village

Photos by Lois Stavsky

It’s Been Busy @ 5Pointz

Although 5Pointz officially launches its 2011 season today, writers from abroad — as well as local ones — have been busy this past month.  The pieces don’t often last long, and we’ve been trying to document this Long Island City graffiti mecca weekly.  Here are three (of many) faves that have recently surfaced:

The Yok and Creepy from Australia, photo by Lois Stavsky
Never @ Work, photo by Yasmin Jones
Meres, et al, photo by Lois Stavsky