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5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin'

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by Dora Bona (subscribe)
A freelance writer, and amateur photographer Dora also teaches creative writing classes. Check out her website at
Published May 2nd 2011
Last time I was in New York, I accidentally jumped on the 7 train to Queens. I'm glad I did because I came across an incredible eye catching display of art, the likes of which I'd never seen before.

5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin' is not a museum or gallery. It's a landmark, visible from the windows of the 7 train into Queens - a stunning living collage of graffiti art covering a converted warehouse full of artist studios.

The "aerosol art" of famous and novice graffiti artists from around the world covers the building's facade, in the form of murals, tags, paintings and poetry - and it's all done with the encouragement of the building's owner.

I don't claim to know a lot about graffiti art, but I do like to learn. The name 5Pointz signifies the five boroughs of New York coming together as one but, because of its reputation, the venue has actually united aerosol artists from across the world. Legendary writers from Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, Brazil, and all over the United States have painted on the building walls, including Stay High 149, Tracy 168, Cope2, Part, and Tats Cru.

You can't help but notice the striking, graffiti-covered warehouse, and over the last ten years, it has attracted several hip-hop and R&B stars, including Doug E. Fresh, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Kaz, Mobb Deep, Rahzel, DJ JS-1, Boot Camp Clik, Joan Jett, and Joss Stone.

It's a popular hangout for the famous or not, with prominent artists, musicians deejays and even filmmakers stopping by regularly to admire the 350 plus technicolor murals.

5Pointz is just a few blocks from MoMA P.S.1, one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the United States, devoting its energy and resources to displaying the most experimental art in the world.

Admire the art all around the outside, or head upstairs to the roof for more graffiti and great views of LIC and Manhattan.

The most coveted locations are given to accomplished graffiti artists who create high-quality, conceptual work that displays great artistic detail, while the less visible areas are preserved for new and aspiring aerosol artists.

If you've ever considered yourself an artist and would like to contribute, you'll need a permit.To obtain a permit, you'll need to provide a work sample - for example a photo of a wall piece, or at least a sketch.

5Pointz is worth catching the 7 train - it's a visual treat.
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Why? Great art comes in many forms
When: Always visible
Where: 46-23 Crane Street, Long Island City, NY.
Cost: free - donations accepted
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