Graffiti Artists Awarded $6.7 Million for Destroyed 5Pointz Murals – The New York Times

Ruling that graffiti — a typically transient form of art — was of sufficient stature to be protected by the law, a federal judge in Brooklyn awarded a judgment of $6.7 million on Monday to 21 graffiti artists whose works were destroyed in 2013 at the 5Pointz complex in Long Island City, Queens.

In November, a landmark trial came to a close in Federal District Court in Brooklyn when a civil jury decided that Jerry Wolkoff, a real estate developer who owned 5Pointz, broke the law when he whitewashed dozens of swirling murals at the complex, obliterating what a lawyer for the artists had called “the world’s largest open-air aerosol museum.”

Though Mr. Wolkoff’s lawyers had argued that the buildings were his to treat as he pleased, the jury found he violated the Visual Artists Rights Act, or V.A.R.A., which has been used to protect public art of “recognized stature” created on someone’s else property.

The $6.7 million awarded to 21 graffiti artists on Monday was the maximum damages possible for what a jury had ruled was a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times

In an odd legal twist, the judge at that trial, Frederic Block, altered the verdict at the 11th hour to make it merely a recommendation. But on Monday, Judge Block upheld the jury’s decision, and his ruling awarded the artists the maximum damages possible, saying that 45 of the dozens of ruined murals had enough artistic stature to merit being protected. The jury had found that only 36 of the works should be guarded under V.A.R.A.

From the start, the 5Pointz case had pitted two of New York City’s most prominent sectors against each other: the art world and the real estate business. Judge Block’s ruling — and the size of the judgment he awarded — was a decisive victory for the former, said Dean Nicyper, a partner who specializes in art law at the firm Withers Bergman.

“There have been other instances where graffiti artists have been recognized as deserving protection,” Mr. Nicyper said, adding that courts have ruled that clothing designers who cribbed ideas from graffiti artists were liable for intellectual theft. But the 5Pointz case, he said, was the first time that graffiti and graffiti artists were protected under V.A.R.A.

David Ebert, a lawyer for Mr. Wolkoff, did not return a call seeking comment.

Eric Baum, a lawyer for the artists, hailed the judgment, calling it “a victory not only for the artists in this case, but for artists all around the country.”

“The clear message is that art protected by federal law must be cherished and not destroyed,” Mr. Baum said. “With this win, the spirit of 5Pointz becomes a legacy for generations of artists to come.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A 17 of the New York edition with the headline: Judge Awards Graffiti Artists $6.7 Million for Destroyed 5Pointz Murals. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


Source: Graffiti Artists Awarded $6.7 Million for Destroyed 5Pointz Murals – The New York Times

Gantry LIC, Latest Bar To Come To Vernon Blvd., To Open Friday Night | Long Island City Post

Gantry LIC, a gastropub that will offer a 1920s vibe, will open on Vernon Boulevard Friday night, according to co-owner Brian Porter.

The bar/restaurant, located at 47-02 Vernon Blvd., has been a year in the works but will finally be open to the public at 9 p.m. tomorrow night. There will be a friends and family event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The bar, which will offer 18 draft beers, has taken on a vintage flavor, Porter said.

“We were originally going for an industrial look but it morphed into a ’20s and ’30s space,” he said.

He said that they built the interior with a lot of reclaimed wood and steel. Additionally, they incorporated old-fashioned wall paper.

There are also several pictures of the gantries hanging on the walls, Porter said, which were taken over the years and pay tribute to the gantry theme.

Porter, who also co-owns LIC Bar, located at 45-58 Vernon Blvd., anticipates that the kitchen will open toward the end of next week.

The kitchen will offer small-plate food such as chicken, lamb and pot roast pies as well as salads. There will be burgers, sandwiches and an emphasis on fish dishes.

The space was previously occupied by Communitea, which closed in October 2014, but reopened at 11-18 46th Road one year later.

Gantry LIC, Latest Bar To Come To Vernon Blvd., To Open Friday Night | Long Island City Post.

Source: Gantry LIC, Latest Bar To Come To Vernon Blvd., To Open Friday Night | Long Island City Post

Lincoln Center Returns To LIC For Silent Disco | Long Island City Post

Big Block Party scheduled Saturday in Court Square district

August 21, It’s In Queens
One of Court Square’s largest annual events takes place Saturday: the LIC Block Party. The event, which is being presented by the SculptureCenter and the Purves Street Block Association, will include art, food and street games for all ages.…

Woman gets violent on subway over seat dispute, NYPD says

August 21, By Michael Florio
A woman became enraged and began biting and scratching another passenger for attempting to move her bag and sit down in an empty seat on the subway. The suspect was riding the Manhattan bound F train on August 14th at 9:45 am,…

CUNY Student Housing To Go Up in Hunters Point

August 20, By Jackie Strawbridge
A student and faculty residence will be built in Hunters Point, following a long-awaited land sale, developers announced last week. O’Connor Capital Partners sold property at 47th Avenue and 5th Street to the Graduate Center Foundation Housing Corp.…

EDC: Second Site Under Consideration For LIC Ferry Dock

August 19, By Jackie Strawbridge
The north west corner of Center Boulevard—which hugs Gantry Plaza State Park—is one of two sites being considered for the new ferry dock that will serve as the Long Island City stop for the incoming Astoria-to-Wall Street ferry line,…

See Queens’ Tallest Tower In Detailed Renderings

August 18, By Jackie Strawbridge
An image of Long Island City’s future has come into clearer focus, with detailed images posted online of the massive tower planned to soar over Queens Plaza. This proposed luxury residence would be located at 29-37 41st Ave.,…

MTA cutting back service on several Queens lines through Sept. 4

August 17, By Michael Florio
Many Queens subway riders can expect slower rush hour commutes over next three weeks. The E, F, M and R subway lines will run less frequently during the morning and evening hours—in order for the MTA to rebuild sections of the express tracks along the Queens Boulevard routes.…

City Contemplates Locating Ferry Dock North of Anable Basin

August 14, By Jackie Strawbridge

The City is examining the dock site just across Anable Basin from Gantry Plaza State Park, for the Long Island City stop on the incoming Astoria-to-Wall Street ferry line.

This ferry line will be one of five slated to open between 2017 and 2018 as part of a City-wide plan announced earlier this year.…

Four LIC Breweries to Host Weeklong Beer Crawl

August 13, By Jackie Strawbridge
Craft beer fans can explore Long Island City’s local brews during a 10-day, self-led brewery crawl starting tomorrow. Big Alice Brewing, LIC Beer Project, Rockaway Brewing Company and Transmitter Brewing will host the brewery crawl from Aug.…

LIC Dog Run To Open End Of This Month

August 12, By Jackie Strawbridge
Long Island City’s newest dog run is slated to open on Aug. 27, according to the State Parks Department. A debut event for the dog run is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Aug. 27.…

Hotel Boom Continues With 150 Rooms Slated for Ravenswood

August 11, By Jackie Strawbridge
As hotels continue to sprout in Long Island City and Astoria, another is planned for Ravenswood, with 150 rooms spanning seven stories. The hotel will sit at 38-04 11th Street, just behind the Ravenswood Generating Station,…

Lincoln Center Returns To LIC For Silent Disco | Long Island City Post.

Suit Alleges 5 Pointz Developer Stiffed His Kid’s Tutor on Her Bill

Suit Alleges 5 Pointz Developer Stiffed His Kid's Tutor on Her Bill

David Wolkoff—the developer tore down Queens graffiti institution 5 Pointz to put up condos—and his wife are being sued by their child’s tutor, the New York Post reports. Lauren Lowenthal alleges that the couple stiffed her nearly $33,000.…

In the suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Lowenthal (an “academic and self-management coach”) invoiced the Wolkoffs $32,900 for helping their 13-year-old son with his homework. Lowenthal claims the couple promised to pay her in November but have ignored multiple invoices.

Excavation at 5 Pointz began earlier this month. Renderings for the two rental towers going up in its place look…boring.

On Friday, speaking from her home on Martha’s Vineyard, Lowenthal told the Post, “This doesn’t belong in the newspaper.”

Photo credit: AP Images. Contact the author of this post: [email protected].

Suit Alleges 5 Pointz Developer Stiffed His Kid’s Tutor on Her Bill.

Bill Inspired by LIC Sculpture Plan Requires Public Input for Outdoor Art – Long Island City – New York

 A rendering of A rendering of “The Sunbather” planned for Jackson Avenue. View Full Caption

Department of Cultural Affairs

LONG ISLAND CITY — The City Council passed a bill Thursday that will require public hearings before some public art projects can be installed.

The legislation was introduced by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer earlier this year after outcry over a plan to erect a pink sculpture on Jackson Avenue and 43rd Avenue under the Department of Cultural Affair’s Percent for Art program.

Some criticized the piece and its $515,000 price tag, spurring the councilman to draft a bill that would require plans for Percent for Art pieces be presented at a public hearing or community board meeting so residents can weigh in.

“My bill aims to enhance the Percent for Art program by giving New Yorkers the ability to have a greater role in selecting public art projects that truly reflect the diversity of our city,” the councilman said in a statement.

Percent for Art was started in 1982 and requires a portion of funds for some city construction projects be used on public art pieces.

The guidelines for the program already require projects to be presented to local community boards before they’re installed, according to a DCA spokesman.

But Van Bramer’s bill legally mandates the public hearings, requires the city to notify the public in advance about it’s plans and advertise public meetings at least two weeks before they take place.

The city is planning to erect the pink sculpture of a reclining man, titled “The Sunbather” by Brooklyn artist Ohad Meromi, on Jackson Avenue with funds allocated from a streetscape improvement project nearby.

The piece — which drew both praise and some negative feedback, particularly about its color — is expected to be installed next year, officials said previously.

The bill still needs to be signed by the mayor before it becomes law.


Bill Inspired by LIC Sculpture Plan Requires Public Input for Outdoor Art – Long Island City – New York.

High-end apartments in Queens Plaza building now available for lease | Long Island City Post

Outcry Over Pink Sculpture Intersects With Broader Questions in Long Island City –

When New York City’s cultural czars revealed the choice of a new piece of public art for Long Island City late last year, the response was swift and withering.

Residents of the Queens neighborhood and others lit into the proposal — an eight-foot-long reclining human form painted vibrant pink — saying it was too bright, too big, too ugly and too expensive. Commenters on the Long Island City Post blog called it “Gumby’s grandmother” and “pink poop.”

“It doesn’t feel great,” said the artist, Ohad Meromi.

Still, the project has continued apace and Mr. Meromi said he hoped the installation would be completed by summer 2016.

Meanwhile, a simmering debate about the project has dovetailed with broader conversations about both the city’s public art program and the future of Long Island City’s thriving arts scene. On Wednesday evening, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district includes Long Island City, will host a town-hall-style meeting to hear residents’ concerns, including those about Mr. Meromi’s sculpture. Tom Finkelpearl, the city’s commissioner of cultural affairs, will join the meeting.

Since the 1970s, when a growing number of artists began colonizing Long Island City’s abandoned and underutilized industrial spaces, the arts have been central to area. The neighborhood now supports a cosmos of artists’ studios, galleries, museums and performing arts groups.

But the cultural scene, to a degree, has also been a victim of its own success in a now-familiar cycle. As Long Island City became more than an industrial hub, developers swooped in, embarking on a frenetic building boom and driving up property values which, in turn, forced out some of the very artists who had helped revitalize the area in the first place.

“Long Island City is arguably the fastest growing and most exciting neighborhood in New York City, and the reason that it is so attractive is because of the cultural community,” Mr. Van Bramer said. “We want to maintain a large cultural presence.”

Mr. Van Bramer said he expected the town hall meeting to be wide-ranging and include discussions about ensuring affordable housing and studio space for artists, as well as an initiative that he has championed to create a cultural master plan for the city.

But officials also expect that some attendees will want to vent about the sculpture.

The project, which is expected to cost $515,000, is part of the city’s Percent for Art initiative, which, under a 1982 law, ensures that one percent of the budget of city-funded construction projects is used for public artwork. The program is managed by the Department of Cultural Affairs, which has commissioned about 400 pieces of art, about 80 of which are still in development, Mr. Finkelpearl said.

Mr. Meromi, 47, was chosen to create a permanent piece for a median at Jackson and 43rd Avenues, a component of a major renovation of Jackson Avenue.

Mr. Meromi, who was born in Israel and lives and works in Brooklyn, said winning the commission was a big deal for him. “It is rare in the life of a sculptor that you get a chance to realize a project of that magnitude,” he said in an interview this week.

The reclining figure he proposed was meant to play off the velocity of life in New York City. He called it “Sunbather.” “It’s at rest, and for me that gesture of rest, of stopping, is some kind of revolt against speed,” he said. He wanted it to be a landmark for the community — with a “soft organic line” that would stand in contrast with all the modern, steel-framed buildings going up around it — and accented with “a bold color.”

“The introduction of color will be like a gift to the location, which is, like, gray and glass,” he said.

The project came to the wider attention of the neighborhood when city officials presented renderings of the work to the local community board in late November and early December. Criticism was muted, said Mr. Meromi, who attended the December meeting.

But disapproval erupted in online forums and elsewhere. Some people worried that both the size and the color of the sculpture could distract passing drivers and cause accidents. (“Chromophobia,” Mr. Meromi says.)

Mr. Van Bramer has declined to weigh in on the art itself. “The last thing you want is for politicians to be determining what is or is not art,” he said in an interview.

But he has responded to criticisms that the public art selection process needs to include more opportunity for public input, and is drafting a city bill that would mandate what he called “a more inclusive and more transparent process” in the selection for the Percent for Art program.

Mr. Finkelpearl said he has been working with Mr. Van Bramer on the bill. “In the big picture, we’d like to look at best practices nationally to determine whether it makes sense to revisit the law comprehensively,” the commissioner added.

One “Sunbather” critic expressed his displeasure with the process by making a sculpture of his own.

In December, Hunt Rodriguez, an artist from Bushwick, Brooklyn, installed his own protest piece on Jackson Avenue, on the sidewalk outside the Court Square Diner: two conjoined and brightly painted wooden pyramids, one standing vertically and the other laid on its side, with a sign that read in part: “This is not against the artist. It is against the misuse of our tax dollars.”

Mr. Rodriguez explained in an interview Tuesday that the standing pyramid represented “the love of the residents” and the fallen pyramid represented “the idea of the city doing something without the support of the community.” The sculpture cost him $351 in supplies, he added.

On Tuesday night, the guerrilla sculpture was still standing, untouched by the authorities and acquiring permanence, amid so much change, with each passing day.

Outcry Over Pink Sculpture Intersects With Broader Questions in Long Island City –

Van Bramer lambasts MTA over No. 7 weekday service, MTA pushes back | Long Island City Post

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer took off the gloves this morning and threw a volley of punches toward the MTA concerning its No. 7 train ‘weekday’ service.

Van Bramer, who was joined by several disgruntled 7 train riders, held a rally at the 40th Street station this morning and said that weekday service had fallen to a new low.

He said that rush-hour commuters have had to contend with trains breaking down, signal malfunctions and overcrowded platforms that have put people’s lives at risk.

“Queens riders are fed up with poor 7 train service,” he said. “Riders are paying for a service that is poor, inconsistent and just plain late.”

He said that the level of service was “outrageous, potentially dangerous and disgraceful.” He said that the MTA, a state-run agency, was not being held accountable and that its standard excuse that ‘it will get better one day’ was inadequate to commuters who have to get to work on time.

He called on the MTA to publicly release detailed information about every disruption (during rush hour) over the last year and to respond to angry riders at a town hall meeting.

But the MTA pushed back. “We will be more than happy to look at the data but what does that accomplish?” wrote Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA, in an e-mail. “To confirm what we already know?”

“We are already working hard to make the 7 line more reliable by installing a new signal system, thousands of feet of track panels and making Sandy-related repairs—all vital work to improve service on the line.”

“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to our customers who depend on the No. 7 line and we appreciate their patience.”

But Tara Turtell, one of several angry riders, wasn’t so patient with the MTA recently when she waited in the freezing cold on the 40th Street platform for over 45 minutes. She said that 10 trains came through the station, which were too packed for anyone to board.

Turtell said she got to work an hour late and that she was so cold that she was unable to E-mail her boss as to her delay.

“Unfortunately that was just one of many times the 7 train has made me excessively late to work. When I complain to the MTA all I hear are halfhearted apologies and absolutely no desire to improve, which makes the situation that much more frustrating,” she said.

Van Bramer said that the MTA’s response to the community has been inadequate.

He said that he sent the MTA a letter on Dec. 12 following another period when his constituents were complaining about weekday service.

Van Bramer said he received a response two months later where the MTA wrote that over the course of the past 12 months “there were periods where delays and incidents have spiked.”

Furthermore, Van Bramer said, the MTA stated in that letter that the No. 7 train outperformed the entire subway system as a whole with fewer delays on average.

Van Bramer said that the MTA had promised the community that it would receive improved weekday service—in return for the hardship caused by the weekend outages.

“My question to the MTA: why then has it sunk to new lows over the last four months?’”

But the MTA struck back claiming that Van Bramer was getting in the way of progress by trying to postpone No. 7 train weekend work for events such as the St. Pat’s for All parade.

“It is disingenuous of the councilman to request on several occasions that we postpone work on the 7 line then hold a rally to complain about service,” Ortiz wrote.

Despite the MTAs claims, Pat O’Brien, the chairman of Community Board 2, said the level of service has been unacceptable. “The MTA may call it the 7 line but for all of us it is our life line—to get to work, school and doctor’s appointments.”