However, with the possibility of 5 Pointz being demolished to build residential high-rises, the anniversary is bittersweet. The location, only a 10-minute subway ride from mid-Manhattan, is one that could bring a lot of profit to property owner, Jerry Wolkoff. Meres believes Wolkoff is simply waiting for the economy to get stronger before inciting the demolition. Over 14,000 people have signed a “Show Your Love to 5Pointz” petition in hopes for 5 Pointz’s preservation.
From Hitler to graffiti art, you have to be able to understand the past and move to the future.
When I asked Meres what he thinks Jerry Wolkoff’s intentions were in donating the building to the art form in the first place, he replied, “I don’t know. I could say he likes the press from it. He says he likes the art. My feeling is that my love for the art is different than what his will ever be.”
“Because I’m the artist. He’s not. My feeling is that you could never have the same feelings as me. It’s like you’re either an outsider or an insider. He’ll never been an insider because he’s not a graffiti artist,” Meres continued.
So, you have to labor through it? You have to go through the worst of it to appreciate the best of it?
To numerous contributing artists, 5 Pointz is widely known as the United Nations of Street Art. Different genres of street art are welcomed and displayed on the warehouse walls. 5 Pointz has become an international destination for artists from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Japan. Amanda Jennings, a Florida native and photographer said she visits 5 Pointz every six months because “There’s always interesting people. People from everywhere in the world.”
As I joined Meres on one of his ongoing perimeter checks, I mentioned that he has been quoted as saying, “These walls are no different to me than a canvas in a museum.” He elaborated—“It’s an unofficial museum. What validates the art in a museum is different than what validates it here.” Well, how is it different to an indoor museum like MoMA? “We are an inside-out museum. We are the walls. Our canvases are 10 times bigger. You stand in front of a mural and its triple the size of the biggest canvas at the MoMA. Other than that, it is no different,” he continued.
After about the third perimeter check, we entered the loading dock. I noticed that a secondary title for 5 Pointz was emblazoned on the wall: “The Institute of Higher Burnin’”. A burner is the highest form of graffiti, a name saved for masterpieces. The play on words signify Meres’s desire to open a school for aspiring aerosol artists, where they can be taught technique and history. “From the most positive history to the most negative, you have to study it. From Hitler to graffiti art, you have to be able to understand the past and move to the future. To me, graffiti art, whether you see it as negative or not, is a part of history. You have to recognize that. It happens to be an art form and to try to silence an art from is when they kill it. It won’t happen, but you know,” Meres said.
Meres is a bit of a celebrity in the street art arena. As we drove around the block in his green Chevy, our conversation was punctuated by regulars who wanted to say hi, praise him, or needed supplies. One of the artists working on the outskirts of the block approached the car, “Yo, I need a black can.”
“I don’t know if I have one,” Meres replied, as he handed him keys to a supply closet.
We made a U-turn for another round of checks when Meres said, “Like going to a war with no bullets.”