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5Pointz exhibition packs LIC gallery

"Whitewash" draws big crowds during the opening weekend at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery. Photo by Bill Parry
TimesLedger Newspapers

The opening weekend of the 5Pointz artists’ “Whitewash” exhibit at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery was a smashing success.

More than 600 visitors came through the gallery Saturday to view the original works from nine graffiti artists and two photographers, all created following the whitewashing of their artwork in November.

“It was great, the house was packed on Saturday and we even had to do crowd control,” the show’s curator, Marie Cecil Flageul, said. “People were so moved by what they saw and social media exploded, remembering 5Pointz has gone global with art tributes in Paris and Milan.”

The gallery was scheduled to be closed Sunday but more visitors came.

“Jeffrey Leder looked out the window at noon and saw people waiting in line, so he opened up,” Cecil Flageul said.

At Friday’s invitation-only event for VIPs, collectors and the media, Leder said, “I’d say the interest is double what we usually get for the opening of a new exhibit. I’m grateful that the artists are getting a chance to show their work in what is really a memorial for what they lost.”

The owners of the old warehouse complex, at 22-44 Jackson Ave., were granted the right to prepare for the demolition of the site by a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge.

In the overnight hours of Nov. 19, Gerry and David Wolkoff ordered workers to whitewash more than 350 murals of aerosol art that made 5Pointz the graffiti mecca known around the world for two decades.

The Wolkoffs are planning to build two luxury, high-rise residential towers on the property and they covered the art to “get it over with all at once,” Gerry Wolkoff said at the time.

“Mr. Wolkoff said it would be like taking medicine, two or three days and the artists would be over it,” Cecil Flageul said. “Here we are five months later and the exhibit shows the artists aren’t over it and neither are their fans.”

Meres One, the 5Pointz leader, said it was good to be back with his best friends and crewmates.

“The art was really therapeutic, good to get it out of our system and let the smoke clear and see where the chips fall,” he said.

Meres One added that the show was their way of bidding farewell to Long Island City since he recently moved to Brooklyn.

“There’s a lot of love for us there. It’s good for my mental state to start fresh elsewhere,” he said.

Hans Von Ritter, one of the two photographers taking part in the exhibit, said, “The whole event was very powerful. There was utter disbelief at how heartless and vindictive it was for Wolkoff to destroy all the art like that,” he said. “Time will tell if this exhibit helps our spirits. You can’t whitewash the truth and art is forever.”

It is also for sale. Leder opened a store in his gallery for the first time.

“We sold seven pieces in the first hour. That’s good for the artists and the gallery,” he said during the pre-open event Friday.

“Whitewash” will continue at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery, at 21-37 45th Road, until June 8. There is also an artist talk tentatively scheduled for May 15 on the importance of public art.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com of by phone at 718-260-4538.

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