Tag Archives: Graffiti

Astoria man charged as serial tagger for graffiti acts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens district attorney's office

An Astoria man was indicted Wednesday for allegedly tagging trees, traffic control boxes and more in the past year, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

Michael Mestric was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on 19 counts of criminal mischief and 19 counts of making graffiti.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the 30-year-old “found a canvas for his tag at nearly every turn.”

Between May 2013 and April of this year, Mestric’s tag “AOE” was found spray painted on highway walls along the Grand Central Parkway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Long Island Expressway, Brown said. Mestric is also being charged for tagging control boxes, a fence, tree, and a historic observation deck at Astoria Park.

“Graffiti is not art – nor is it a victimless crime. Tagging encourages lawlessness. It leads to decreased property values and is expensive to remove,” Brown said.

The damage and cost of removing the graffiti allegedly exceeded $12,500, with the observation deck at Astoria Park alone costing more than $2,500 to repair.

If convicted, Mestric faces up to seven years in prison.

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Anti-police graffiti found on Astoria phone booths: reports


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

PoliceCarHC0312_L_300_C_R4-624x413

Cops are looking into anti-police graffiti that was found Thursday on two Astoria phone booths, according to published reports.

The messages, which read “Become a hero? Shoot a cop!” and “Good Cop = Dead Cop,” appeared on public phone booths on 31st Street and 36th Avenue, reports said.

Nearby surveillance video is being looked at as part of the investigation.

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Residents clean up graffiti-stricken bridge in Hamilton Beach


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Graffiti has been a problem in Hamilton Beach for decades, creating eyesores all around the neighborhood.

And the bridge that connects Hamilton Beach to Old Howard Beach over Hawtree Creek, known to residents as the “blue bridge,” is one of the most notorious spots for defacement.

But some residents, who are fed up with the look it gives the neighborhood, took clean-up matters into their own hands.

“One day, while hanging on my boat with some friends, we all started talking [about] how the bridge made the neighborhood look degrading,” said Laura Weiser, a resident of Hamilton Beach for 12 years. “So, I decided to do something about it.”

And she did.

GRAFFITI_THREE

In the beginning of October, Weiser, along with her friend and fellow resident of Hamilton Beach, Traci Scotto, bought some green paint, and started painting over the graffiti on the concrete footing of the bridge.

Within three hours, the pair fully painted the northern portion of the footing on the Hamilton Beach side but soon after ran into some trouble.

As Weiser was starting to paint the southern portion, on her second day of painting, she slipped, fell and tore tendons and ligaments in her left wrist. Because of this injury, she could not finish painting the side and has left it a quarter of the way done.

She is now hoping that some residents will follow her good deed and help finish painting the concrete as she will not be able to do so for another six weeks.

“I would love to have finished painting the bridge,” Weiser said. “I still have plenty of paint and new rollers and brushes. Now, I just need someone to continue on what I have started.”

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Councilman Ulrich allocates $25K to clean up graffiti in district


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Cross Bay Boulevard can draw comparisons to 5Pointz with the amount of graffiti that has stricken its surrounding neighborhoods, but clean-up is on the way.

In his discretionary budget, Councilman Eric Ulrich has allocated $25,000 to graffiti clean-up in the district. Ulrich is teaming up with the Queens Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which will choose a company for the clean-up, for the first time and is hoping to start the job next month.

Cleaning up graffiti in these neighborhoods and all of Council District 32 is something that Ulrich has funded throughout his time as councilman, but this year he has allocated more money than ever to hit even more problem areas, according to Rudy Giuliani, a representative for the councilman.

The focus areas that Ulrich outlined are the neighborhoods of Woodhaven and Ozone Park. This is where graffiti is the biggest problem in Ulrich’s district, Giuliani said. The company that is hired by the Queens EDC will then move on to other areas in the district, which include Howard Beach, Lindenwood and the Rockaways.

 

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5Pointz demolition expected to begin in August: reports


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

The Long Island City site which once was home to the graffiti mecca known as 5Pointz could soon be gone.

Jerry Wolkoff, owner of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, said he hopes to begin demolishing the buildings in August after initially wanting to have started tearing down the site months ago, according to published reports. The demolition is expected to take up to three months to finish.

Wolkoff and his company, G&M Realty, hope to build two apartment towers—one 47 stories and the other 41 stories tall – with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

In October, the City Council approved the developer’s proposal to build apartment towers to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

Last November, Wolkoff ordered to have the building and all the aerosol work that covered it painted white overnight only a few days after artists and supporters held rallies looking to save the graffiti mecca and requesting the site be landmarked.

Wolkoff previously said the towers would include about 20 artist studios and outdoor walls designated for artists.

Wolkoff did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

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Queens graffiti legend electrocuted by third rail at Brooklyn subway station: report


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

A Queens graffiti legend was killed earlier this week when he was electrocuted by the third rail at a Brooklyn subway station, according to a published report.

Jason Wulf, 42, known as “DG,” died around 10 p.m. Wednesday at the 25th Street Station in Sunset Park, the New York Post reported. Wulf was heading to his Queens home at the time, but it wasn’t clear what he was doing when he was found dead on the tracks and the MTA is investigating, the Post said.

An online fundraiser was also set up to raise money for his funeral service that reached its goal of $10,000. According to the Post, on Monday a wake for Wulf will be held at Seneca Chapels followed by a funeral service at St. Matthias Church in Ridgewood.

Wulf, a writer, artist and founder of NWC (New Wave Crew) comes from Ridgewood, and started his career in 1985, even “[painting] subway cars during the clean train movement, a time period in the 1990s when many writers continued to hit trains regardless of the MTA’s strict buff policy,” according to Animal New York.

“DG was able to pull off what many of his fellow writers couldn’t: Create a body of artwork that is intrinsically graffiti, but not a redundant reiteration of his work on the street. Despite his outpouring of creativity, he never embraced the art world or graffiti circuit. Although he sold canvasses, he represented that older school breed of graffiti writer who had no interest in mainstream recognition,” Bucky Turco of Animal New York wrote.

 

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Lewd graffiti scrawled on Hamilton Beach footbridge


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Graffiti is nothing new for Hamilton Beach residents. But residents are alarmed over new racist slurs and sexually suggestive images scrawled on a graffiti-covered footbridge connecting the small neighborhood to Howard Beach.

The bridge, which is known as “the blue bridge” to locals and goes over Hawtree Creek, has always been a hangout spot for kids smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, according to Marie Persans, a Hamilton Beach resident. And it has always been laden with graffiti but over the weekend someone, or group, sprayed a series of offensive terms and images on the bridge.

“You’ve got some really nasty stuff written over there,” Persans said. “Thank goodness I don’t use that bridge too often.”

Barbara Eckel-Schimmenti wrote on Facebook, “Walked over the bridge with grandchildren [and] was embarrassed by the profanity.”

A police source said that residents should report these incidents as often as possible to the police, but since the bridge is owned by the Department of Transportation (DOT) there is only so much they can do. For now, the 106 Precinct’s graffiti unit has been informed of the issue.

A spokesman for the DOT said, “We will inspect the location. DOT attempts to remove any such objectionable graffiti as soon as possible.”

Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, said that the bridge also has broken lights and that he brought these issues to Councilman Eric Ulrich’s attention.

The councilman’s office did not immediately return calls for comment.

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Cops arrest Ridgewood and Middle Village graffiti vandals


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

The next thing these vandals could be drawing is punishment.

Police arrested Joseph Guilfoyle, 43, of Ridgewood, and David Negron, 20, of Middle Village, for graffiti in numerous areas of Queens.

Guilfoyle was charged on Tuesday with eight complaints of graffiti in multiple precincts. He was wanted for vandalizing roadways, such as the Long Island Expressway, the Grand Central Parkway and the Van Wyck Expressway.

Negron was charged on Saturday with 21 individual acts of graffiti. He tagged just about anything he could find, according to police, including store fronts of local businesses, ATM machines, mailboxes, doors, emergency call boxes and payphones, mostly in Maspeth and Ridgewood.

 

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‘Gentrification in Progress’ banner appears on 5Pointz building


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER

Two artists are making sure their voices are heard as the demolition of the buildings that were once home to 5Pointz continues.

Artists gilf! and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) collaborated to put a large yellow tape around the Jackson Avenue side of the Long Island City building with the words “Gentrification in Progress,” according to a Twitter post. The banner was reported on the site Sunday morning.

After a long fight to save 5Pointz, the LIC graffiti mecca, years of art was whitewashed overnight last year. The owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, the Wolkoff family, ordered the action to be taken in November. Rallies were held throughout that same month to save the site, including a gathering just three days before the whitewashing, requesting the building with its art be landmarked.

Since the whitewashing, the demolition process has slowly begun with signs of asbestos removal crews at the location.

 

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Ridgewood newsstand razed, problems persists across street


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Office of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley

One long-standing Ridgewood problem down, and one more to go.

The troublesome newsstand on Metropolitan Avenue near Fresh Pond Road, which had been an eyesore in the community, attracting garbage and graffiti for more than two decades, has finally been taken out of sight.

The MTA/LIRR, which owned the land, demolished it on Friday with $100,000 allocated from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.

“After long delays from both the DOT (Department of Transportation) and LIRR, I am happy to see persistence pay off,” Crowley said.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

Crowley called a press conference in 2009 with Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Mike Miller to announce that they would remove the structure, and transform the space into a community garden.

But those promises were derailed due to complications with the LIRR and the DOT, which both have rights to the property.

The city was reluctant to have any work done in the area, according to Crowley, because of the renovations on the nearby bridge on Metropolitan Avenue.

Community leaders appreciate that the site has finally turned a corner, but now they want elected officials to focus on the other problem — literally across the street.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

The DOT assumed control of the abandoned gas station on Metropolitan Avenue across from the newsstand site several years ago, but the property has also attracted graffiti. However, unlike the newsstand, the gas station is fenced in, meaning community volunteers can’t clean it up.

“The city takes available property, because they have to fix the bridge and then they let it go,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, which has cleaned up the newsstand site in the past. “They don’t keep it up, and this is a disgrace. If we, regular property owners, did that, we’d get fined.”

Photo courtesy Bob Holden

Plans aren’t complete for what the newsstand site will become, but for now the DOT “will make it nicer,” according to a Crowley spokesperson.

 

 

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Graffiti duo busted in Richmond Hill


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

Police busted two vandals in Richmond Hill on Saturday.

Sergeant Jimmy Conwall, Detective Christopher Diaz and P.O. Anthony D’Ascanio, dressed in plain clothes, spotted two people sitting on a subway bench at the Jamaica Avenue and 111th Street station around 1 a.m. on Jan. 11.

The pair, Tommy Martinez and Jeremy Cautin, was sitting near “fresh graffiti vandalism” on a J-train car, police said.

Diaz saw a knapsack stuffed with spray paint cans next to Martinez, 19, of Brooklyn. He tried to close the bag as the officers approached, according to police.

Diaz then saw Cautin, 21, of Richmond Hill, wearing one green latex glove and a spray paint can sticking out of his jacket pocket.

Later, cops determined the fresh graffiti belonged to the two. Cautin acted as a lookout while Martinez tagged “FEAL” on the subway car, 10 feet wide and over three feet high.

They were both arrested and charged with criminal mischief, making graffiti, 15 counts of possession of graffiti instrument and criminal trespassing.

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New Park Pizza in Howard Beach vandalized


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo via mrsquinn1118/Instagram

The iconic Howard Beach pizzeria, New Park Pizza, was reportedly vandalized early Friday morning.

An angry customer tagged “worst service ever” on the pizza spot’s front windows for all of Cross Bay Boulevard to see, according to an Instagram picture posted Friday morning.

An employee said the graffiti was washed away by the time he came into work.

New Park Pizza was the site of a 1986 hate crime in which a black man, Michael Griffith, was killed.

 

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Graffiti artist Banksy makes his way to Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Eric Benaim

A “residency on the streets of New York” would not be complete without coming into Queens for one artist.

Since the start of the month, the mysterious, ghost-like and notorious British graffiti artist only known by the name Banksy has hit the streets to tag his way around the Big Apple. In a unique show titled “Better Out Than In,” Banksy has been going around each day of the month and leaving his stenciled pieces for people to find. The artist also stencils a phone number with each piece so whoever is curious can call and find out a bit more on each artwork.

The artist began his “exhibit” on October 1 with his first piece appearing in Manhattan with reports saying it was on a building in Chinatown. Each day the official website for Banksy, www.banksyny.com, gets updated with images of the new stencils.

According to reports and the Banksy official website, on Sunday the artist set up a stall in Central Park and sold original signed canvases for $60, which normally go for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

After hitting Manhattan and Brooklyn, Banksy made his way to Queens on Monday and stenciled on a blank wall in Woodside. After reports of the piece appeared throughout the Internet, fans flocked to the 69th Street and 38th Avenue wall where the artist had written the quote, “What we do in life echoes in Eternity” from the movie “Gladiator” and stenciled a man trying to wipe off the words.

Even with all the admirers, on Monday night the Woodside piece met the same fate as other New York Banksy pieces, as a different graffiti artist painted over the work.

 

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5Pointz to become apartment complex after final vote


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Developers have reached the final step in seeing the Long Island City graffiti mecca, known as 5Pointz, become two apartment towers.

The City Council voted on Wednesday, October 9 to approve the land use application that would allow the Wolkoff family, owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, and developer G&M Realty to build apartment towers to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

One tower would reach 47 stories and the other 41 stories, with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

According to Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, developers agreed to build and staff the two buildings with 100 percent union workers, bringing more than 1,000 jobs to Long Island City, and also increase the number of affordable housing units from 75 to 210.

“The concessions provided under the compromise will give Western Queens residents as well as artists a wide variety of interactive amenities future generations will benefit from,” said Van Bramer.

As a “commitment to the arts in this building,” Van Bramer said the developers agreed to keep the altered plans they made in July after listening to comments from Community Board 2, which voted against the application.

G&M Realty’s plan will now include an addition of 10,000 square feet to the initial 2,000 square feet planned for artists’ studios. Borough President Helen Marshall approved the application in July.

Van Bramer said the Wolkoffs have also given a written agreement to offer Jonathan Cohen, widely known as Meres and curator of 5Pointz, the chance to select art on the new building’s walls and panels.

“It was important for me to honor the history of the building over the last 20 years and to recognize what it had become to the graffiti and aerosol art world,” said Van Bramer.

However, according to Marie Cecile Flageul, 5Pointz artists are furious a second hearing, previously promised by Van Bramer, never happened and although 40 speakers stood up to speak at the October 2 public hearing, no one really listened.

“It was a beautiful horse and pony show,” said Flageul. “About half way through the testimonies, almost every council person had left the room. Every single person that took the day off to come and speak, wasted their time because there has been no follow up.”

Flageul also said to date no 5Pointz artists have been contacted or offered to work within the art studios or be featured on the art panels. There have also been no commitments in writing stating everything promised would actually take place once the towers come up.

“[The artists] feel disrespected, they feel profiled,” said Flageul. “We’re all volunteers. We all work our butts off.”
Although the artists have until December 1 to leave the property, Flageul said business will continue as usual with artists from around the world currently putting up their work and more making the trip to the borough.

“We’re going to continue doing what we’re doing. That’s the beauty of art, no matter how much corruption or unfairness there might be, right now we’re continuing what we have been doing for 11 years. We are going to continue the beautification of Long Island City,” said Flageul. “We’re never making the move. We’re here till the end.”

Sunnyside battles graffiti with new removal program


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District

Sunnyside will soon shine brighter, thanks to a monthly graffiti removal program.

With the help of a $2,500 donation from the TD Charitable Foundation, the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID) launched its efforts to combat vandalism.

“We are extremely grateful for this generous award from the TD Charitable Foundation, which will sustain our increased graffiti removal efforts in the neighborhood,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines BID.

Each month Sunnyside Shines identifies graffiti in the area, which is later removed by a specialized contractor.
Last month, tags were removed from 22 businesses.

By removing the graffiti on a monthly basis, Sunnyside Shins hopes to assist in beautifying the neighborhood and making Sunnyside an enjoyable area to shop and do business.

“Removing graffiti on a monthly basis helps maintain a clean and safe commercial district, and also helps attract new businesses to Sunnyside,” said Thieme.

To report graffiti on your business, call Sunnyside Shines at 718-606-1800 and the business will be added to the list of upcoming sites to be cleaned.

 

Before and after photos from the graffiti removal program:

 

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