Does that happen often?
“It happens here and there. I actually found a wall on the other side, someone must have found a scrap can and drew a penis is one of the characters mouths. So, I got to fix it up,” he said.
You could take wax and make a record, candle, or sculpture. That’s the way I am. I could work in the commercial field, with fine arts, specific graphic work, or something abstract.
If you ask Meres, he’ll tell you that everything has happened at 5 Pointz—weddings, engagement parties, music videos, and the likes. The worst day at 5 Pointz, he’ll tell you, was the day that a flight of stairs collapsed. In April of 2009, Nicole Gagne, a jewelry designer and friend of Meres, was leaving her indoor studio when an external stairway had collapsed, thrusting her to a three-story tumble. “Not only was [she] almost tragically killed, but it really put everything in the air. That led to a whole chain of events where the building got repainted and I wasn’t sure if they were going to keep it open,” Meres said. From what Meres hears, Nicole moved to a warmer place and is still recouping. Now, the inside of the 5 Pointz warehouse serves solely as storage space. Before the stair incident, 110 artists used the indoor studios to practice and display their crafts.
Marie Flageul, a 5 Pointz volunteer and owner of an event company, remembers another memorable day at 5 Pointz—one she describes as sad and beautiful. A few years ago, a kid, Jake, was getting into a lot of trouble with the law because he was illegally tagging in Brooklyn. His mother, a college professor, reached out to Meres and asked him to provide some guidance and hosting to Jake at 5 Pointz. Meres didn’t develop a personal relationship with Jake, (otherwise known by his tag name, Drip) but would say hi, give him a spot, and check on his progress. One day, as he was heading out for school on a bicycle, a van hit him. He passed away on the scene. Jake’s parents called Meres asking him to host a memorial for him at 5 Pointz. Meres and Marie questioned whether it was appropriate to host a memorial in front of a warehouse, amid dumpsters. But, they couldn’t say no. They arranged the delivery of 300 chairs and Meres gave Jake’s friends a wall to honor the art form and a kid who adored it. Jake’s parents asked Meres to speak. “He just gave a few words and got so choked up as if it was a true friend or little brother,” Marie recalls. “It wasn’t because he knew Jake. It was because of his value of life that was showcased in the speech he gave. He’s been in touch with the parents ever since. That’s really a life lesson – how you are here today and can be gone tomorrow. It’s really representative of the way, I think, Meres looks at life.”
Marie Flageul has known Meres since 2006. She is one of core volunteers who have dedicated so much time to the demanding 5 Pointz with no prospects of personal gain. “Unfortunately with nonprofit, when you’re dealing with volunteers, there is a lot of deception when people will come and say they want to help. After two months you realize people are in it for the wrong reasons,” Marie said. Because 5 Pointz gets a lot of press coverage, celebrity interest, and internet presence, some volunteers just want to be affiliated with 5 Pointz for exposure to sell their music, clothing line, or paintings. Flageul says that Meres has developed a prepared attitude—“Now he’s just welcoming the help for what it’s worth and how long it’s worth, and if it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Through her years of working with Meres, Marie has come to learn that, “he has the ability to enjoy things that don’t have a dollar value. He’s much more about human interaction and creativity for no gain”. What makes him happy? “Good, old-school house music, anything cheesy—as far as food, a beautiful day with no rain or cold so that he could paint, kids, dogs, and people in general,” said Marie. What makes him tick? “Competition, in the poor sense of competition. Not self-motivation to do better, but ego fights over a wall or piece or who’s better. He has a very, very low tolerance of self-interested people. And, he has a zero tolerance for liars,” Marie continued.