Two abandoned warehouses sit in a fenced-in NE corner of the former Naval Air Station, which closed 15 years ago. Driving by a week ago I noticed the number of tractors and cranes at work tearing down the wooden roof and walls. As they did, the demolition exposed a bunch of graffiti on the concrete walls that remained. What caught my eye was “Swappy’s” giant iconic yellow horned-skull thing. I’ve seen his work in Detroit, New Orleans, Buffalo, Salton Sea, NYC, and all about the bay area. I had to get a snap of it.
I learned that this activity was set in motion when Alameda’s Planning Board approved the subdivision of the base parcel allowing actual building to start on a 10.2 acre pad (Parcel 1), which is the area where the warehouses are located. This was in order to make way for a new Target store and some housing. Wednesday July 18 marked the groundbreaking for first phase of the Alameda Landing development, and demolition of the warehouses began soon after. Amazing that after all these years of talk, there is activity on the base! But sad, as these vintage bldgs and urbex locations are disappearing… (Interesting too is that this parcel includes that base hospital which mysteriously burned down a few years ago, where the AFD responded to three separate calls to put out fires, all in the same night, finally letting last one go due to the “presence of accelerant” and crew safety issues. How convenient the developers don’t have to deal with all that asbestos and lead paint… but i digress).
So it appears that for at least the last 5 years or more artists have been sneaking in to paint the interiors with large works of art, aka burns. The graffiti inside these huge structures was wall to wall, floor to ceiling in most places, 2-3 stories high. The floor was littered with empty spray cans, disposable gloves, and dried up rollers. The volume of work was amazing, perhaps comparable to SF’s old Tuna Factory – which met with a similar fate.
Here are some images from a few day and night visits I made in the last week, hoping to capture as much as possible before it was all gone. Art on the wooden walls and giant sliding fire doors of the eastern-most warehouse were long gone, but i got most of what was left in the other bldg. See if you can read them. I’m sure this place had a real nickname. If you know, please share. Enjoy!
Had a recent trip to NYC to visit my buddy Steff, who took me to some cool places. One of which was 5-Pointz, “the” place for serious graff. We got there the day after they wrapped filming for a Morgan Freeman flick, some action thriller due out Jan 2013. Met one of the volunteers, ZROK, who made a mural with Auks and Zimad using leftover cans from the other artists, recycling if you will (see Angry Birds pix). He gave me the lowdown and quick a tour of the complex. The entire space is covered with amazing burns, by artists from around the world. There is a cool bar/pub on the NE corner of the complex, The Shannon Pot, which has some killer deals, like a bucket of 10 iced PBR for $20. The Space Womb Gallery is next door.
No sense in reinventing the wheel, so here’s more background from Wiki:
5 Pointz: The Institute of Higher Burnin‘ or the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. is an outdoor art exhibit space in Long Island City, New York, considered to be the world’s premiere “graffiti Mecca,” where aerosol artists from around the globe paint colorful pieces on the walls of a 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) factory building. The complex owned by Long Island developer Jerry Wolkoff houses the Crane Street Studios in which 200 artists pay below market rents for studio space. In 2009 a 450-square-foot (42 m2) studio was listed as renting for $600/month.
It was announced in March 2011 that Wolkoff plans to redevelop the property to build high-rise residential towers, putting the future of 5 Pointz in jeopardy.
History: The complex was first established as the Phun Phactory in 1993 by Pat DiLillo under a program called Graffiti Terminators to discourage graffiti vandalism by encouraging artists to display their work in a formal showcase.
In 2002 Jonathan Cohen, a graffiti artist operating under the name “Meres” began curating the work. If he is not familiar with an artist, Cohen will ask for a sample of their work; if it is a mural, he will ask for a layout as well. The name 5Pointz signifies the five boroughs coming together as one but, because of its reputation as an epicenter of the graffiti scene, the industrial complex 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.
Over the past decade, the striking, graffiti-covered warehouse 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. One of the first graffiti there was a portrait of Jam-Master Jay, an important member of the early hip hop musical style.
- Another Visit To 5 Pointz in L.I.C. Queens N.Y. (cokeonexpress.com)
A evening visit to wine country. Intention was to visit an abandoned location, but it required navigating some railroad tracks. Got there at dusk. Amazed by all the great graff, started to snap with some nifty ambient lighting the cars. Was just able to get these few snaps when a trio of powerful, tight-beamed flashlights started coming towards me, and then a shout of “Stop right there!” So I did, no sense running. (The last photo was lit by the police flashlights – thx..)
Napa Police had us line up against the train, drop our gear and face the rail cars. Standard line of questions and scare tactics ensued, followed by the gathering of ID and info. They soon realized we were neither the scrapper-thieves the locals have been dealing with, nor the ones painting the cars.
Cops then actually became quite cool. We started talking flashlight tech, and about famous/notorious painters we’ve seen around the bay and had spotted around that yard. We showed them some in-camera snaps. Then they even gave some suggestions of other places with great graff. We were then escorted out of the yard with no further action taken. Bummed our plans were cut short, but we’ll go back again, via a new route, of course…