NYC's 5 Pointz Artists Win Another Extension and Call out to Bansky for Help

In a welcomed decision by Federal District Judge Frederic Block 5Pointz artists were handed another win on October 28, when he made a ruling that extended the existing temporary restraining order (TRO) he issued last week. In that decision he issued a 10-day temporary restraining order to the 16 graffiti artists who filed a lawsuit in an attempt to save the art they painted on 5 Pointz, the "Graffiti Mecca" of the art world, by stopping the demolition of the buildings located in Long Island City, Queens.

In a brilliant legal argument presented by Jeannine Chanes and Roland Acevedo, the two lawyers who are representing the artists, the plaintiffs argued that destroying the art work is in violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act ("VARA") and copyright law. The suit seeks to preserve the community's cultural heritage by preventing the owner of the buildings from destroying the 5 Pointz art work -- and the buildings which house it -- in order to build a proposed luxury apartment complex. The federal action is believed to be the first in the nation in which street artists have sought legal protection for their artwork. Unlike traditional artwork that is done on canvases that are hung in museums or galleries, street art is large-scale work often done on exterior or interior walls where it is immediately available for viewing by the general public. Working on that scale, however, means that the artwork cannot be removed or relocated.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs claim that 5 Pointz is unique in that it houses what is believed to be the largest collection of street/aerosol art in the world. The 5 Pointz collection, which is made up of both permanent and rotating pieces, includes works done by some of the world's most renowned street/aerosol artists. As a result, 5 Pointz is an internationally-known tourist attraction that brings millions of tourist dollars to New York City every year. 5 Pointz also brings New York additional revenue as the location for movie, video and photo shoots.

The street art that appears on the walls at 5 Pointz -- which is seen daily by tens of thousands New York subway riders on the #7 train -- is a far cry from the graffiti that New York City and other metropolitan areas worked to eradicate in the 1980's. The 5 Pointz pieces are beautiful works of aerosol art that transcend differences in age, culture and background, and are particularly impressive when viewers realize that the intricate pieces are painted free-form using nothing more than cans of spray paint.

Judge Block scheduled the new hearing on November 6, 2013, at which time he will also address the artists' allegations that the property owner, Jerry Wolkoff, violated the existing TRO over this past weekend.

Under the terms of the TRO, Mr. Wolkoff is required to halt all demolition-related activities that may harm the works of art at 5Pointz, but now the plaintiffs in the case are saying that that TRO was violated. This issue will be addressed in a hearing on November 6, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom 10C, and will continue, as necessary, on November 7 and 8, 2013.

The 5Pointz evidentiary hearing is open to the general public. The federal district court is located at 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York. It is a short walk from the Borough Hall and numerous other train stops.

With the good fortune of getting the extension the artists involved in this case are calling out to the famous English artist 'Bansky' to join their cause to stop the demolition of 5Pointz which is known as the Graffiti Mecca of the world. In the Guardian, Jonathan Cohen ( also known as Meres1)spoke out and believes Bansky should offer support to 5 Pointz. He said "We're not asking you to give us money, but your words could help," Meres said. "Why don't you put a comment out?" Bansky who is also known as a political activist has created his art on the walls of the buildings of New York City every day for a month and has achieved great notoriety through his commentary. If he used his art to try to save 5Pointz he would be a hero to many.

The use of art as a political weapon is not new. Through history, the role of the artist as a social commentator has been invaluable and engrained in our culture. Art and its creation as a response to social and political issues can become powerfully influential in raising public awareness that results in positive change.

It is hoped that Bansky reaches out in time to support us and help our cause to preserve 5Pointz

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