The front side of 5 Pointz is obvious, and yet people still walk by without bothering to look. I guess if you don’t come to Queens especially to see this, it might not be on your mind to put off your day’s tasks to appreciate art, even on this mammoth scale. But when they notice me stopped on the sidewalk, it suddenly occurs to them to stop as well. They crane their necks upwards, step in a little closer. And then are on their way.

Along the side of 5 Pointz a guard patrols. Signs say No Trespassing, No Climbing On the Roof. My eyes claw over these as they search the best way to scale the wall. The roof is clearly a treasure trove of works, but for now unattainable. I imagine further inquiry could get me a tour, but not today.

This side street is lazy with traffic. I step farther away to see more, back up all the way into the parking lot of the city buses. So this is where they go to sleep. Art winds up the fire escapes, creeps into the cracks of the windows, seeps behind screens. Color spatters the sidewalk. Painted faces look up my skirt. Poles, tree trunks, bear the stripes of the test-spray, the artist’s warm up, 1-2, 1-2.

At the very back a parking lot borders on unused subway tracks. Chain-link fence is cut, and pulled back, and colored like everything else. Dead trains on the dead tracks sit and watch.

Through the parking lot to the back corner, the second side-street framing 5 Pointz begins. This is my favorite part, because it is the place least like a museum, and therefore most pleasing for me to see art in.

It smells like a pond. Muddy, stagnant water pools there, putrid. The fetid smell lies low on the ground. My shoes squelch in the mud. Overhead the subway roars, rattles, screeches, squeaks. Creaking like a wooden roller coaster. White vans pull up and unload. Men sit on stoops and stare unabashedly, but no one really bothers me. Police cars drive in and out of view on the main street ahead. The wind blows and the stench of garbage, then falafel wafts through. In openings in the wall, too door-less to be called doorways, I see Hillal Carts. This is where they must come from. Middle-Eastern men hustle around them, cooking and prepping for the day. Trucks idle outside.

A deep rumble. Water drips on me from high above. There’s a roar, groan, shriek, sound of a knife being sharpened as the subway tracks overhead. Shadows move on the walls.

Every surface- wall, sidewalk, fence, pole, sign, is scrawled upon. Every garbage can has a face or something to say.

I think it’s quite ideal.

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Comments For This Post

  1. Susan July 14, 2013, 9:57 pm

    I would have never seen this wonderful art or had a glimpse into this cultural corner without your photos nor the sense of being there without your word art. Love it!

  2. Julie Lake July 19, 2013, 4:44 pm

    This is so cool, Ali! I’m so proud of you!

  3. Reid July 20, 2013, 1:58 am

    Awesome (writing, photography, graffiti, and you)!

  4. ali lake July 20, 2013, 7:38 pm

    thanks y’all! 🙂

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