Tag Archives: Graffiti

Woodhaven graffiti cleanup will also help local charity

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association

This summer’s Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) graffiti removal campaign will do more than just make the neighborhood more beautiful.

The civic group, which annually paints over graffiti found on local mailboxes across the community, will use the effort to raise funds for the NYFAC Foundation in Howard Beach, which supports families and children affected by autism.

On July 25, WRBA volunteers plan to scatter across the neighborhood to repaint more than 100 vandalized mailboxes. The organization will supply all the paint and tools necessary to get the job done, but local residents can pledge donations for the NYFAC Foundation per repainted mailbox. They may cap their pledges at a certain amount, such as 50 cents per mailbox up to a maximum of $25.

“Over the last few years, many of our members have pitched in on efforts to fight graffiti and make our community neater, but this event will be special,” WRBA President Martin Colberg said in a statement. “We expect to reach every corner of Woodhaven while attracting new volunteers who are interested in supporting a deserving charity.”

Ed Wendell, a WRBA director, hopes that partnering with the NYFAC Foundation not only gives local volunteers the incentive to participate, but may also convince local vandals to think twice about messing up the volunteers’ hard work later.

“It’s a nice way to turn it from a negative to a positive story,” Wendell said. “Hopefully, some of these taggers, when they see this, may make them feel a little bad about [the vandalism].”

Andrew Baumann, longtime president and CEO of the NYFAC Foundation, expressed gratitude for the WRBA’s efforts.

“We are very grateful — and very humbled — that the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association would select us as the beneficiaries of their fundraising efforts,” Baumann said. “The association’s efforts will go a long way toward helping us ‘better the lives of those with autism’ and toward beautifying the community.”

Anyone interested in donating to the campaign is encouraged to email the WRBA at info@woodhaven-nyc.org, or visit the WRBA’s next town hall meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 18, at Emanuel Church of Christ, located at the corner of 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard. Those who wish to volunteer during the cleanup should email the WRBA or call 718-296-3735.


5Pointz artists suing over whitewashing: report

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

A group of 5Pointz artists who saw their work disappear when it was whitewashed is now suing the property’s owner over the loss, according to a published report.

Nine of the artists who displayed their aerosol work at the former Long Island City graffiti mecca on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court Friday, claiming that the property’s owner, Jerry Wolkoff, committed an illegal act by painting over their work without giving them enough warning to take it down and save it, the Daily News reported.

According to the publication, the artists are seeking significant monetary damages.

“This case is not only brought on behalf of plaintiffs, but it sends a message to everyone that the unlawful destruction of artwork will not be tolerated. If anyone violates federal law under the Visual Rights Act, they must be held accountable,” their attorney Eric Baum of Eisenberg & Baum told the Daily News.


In November 2013, 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.

The same year, the 5Pointz artists attempted to sue to stop the developer from tearing down the buildings but lost an important ruling shortly before the whitewashing. But a judge also reportedly said that their works had “recognized stature” and some could qualify under the Visual Artists Rights Act.

Wolkoff and his company, G&M Realty, plan 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 on the former 5Pointz site. Last August, Wolkoff also released a rendering of a reserved space for graffiti that will be on the new building’s exterior near a rear courtyard, and will be open to the public.


5Pointz artists transform August Martin HS in Jamaica

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Over a hundred 5Pointz artists volunteered their time this weekend to make the hallways of a high school in Jamaica shine once again.

August Martin High School was filled with laughter and music on Saturday as 5Pointz curators Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen and Marie Cecile Flageul invited aerosol artists from near and far to cover the interior of the school in one-of-a-kind artwork.

The 5Pointz crew worked together with a team of students of the nonprofit The Future Project Dream Team at the school, who came up with the idea for the project called “Operation Skittles.”

The project — in which artists paint the school’s hallways, staircases and elevator doors — came after the team surveyed 500 students and found out that their fellow classmates unanimously felt the white walls of the school needed to be changed to enhance the atmosphere.

“I still believe that the classrooms should be kind of free of art so you can focus but why not have the hallways awesome. Why not have a school that you can brag about?” Cohen said. “Its cool because [5Pointz is] kind of inside out, it’s almost inverted. The students have a little treasure that not everyone will have.”


On both Saturday and Sunday, over 100 artists are volunteering their time and paint to transform the school, located at 156-01 Baisley Blvd. They have been given the freedom to choose the art that will go on the walls, and each will have an inspirational word.

“Being able to use the power of art to inspire the youth is amazing and I know these kids that go here are looked at as disappointment because of their graduation rate but as time changes so does our methods of getting these kids into school,” Cohen said. “You just have to give them a little bit of inspiration.”

Along with being seen as the “rebirth” of 5Pointz, which saw its Long Island City home be whitewashed in 2013, organizers and school staff also hope this project will give the school which some call “the worst in New York City” a second chance.

“This alone might get [students] to school and create a sense of pride for their school that a lot of them didn’t have before,” said Syreeta Gates, The Future Project Dream Director at August Martin.

According to the school’s principal, Gillian Smith, August Martin is still considered an “out of time school” meaning it hasn’t made any academic progress in recent years and has a 39 percent graduation rate.

However, Smith, who welcomed the idea of the project with open arms, hopes a project such as coming together with 5Pointz artists will help build a sense of pride and push students to do better.

Some artists have offered to participate in future workshops for the students, and the 5Pointz curators also hope to continue being a “part of the family” with the school.


“We want students to be so inspired that they want to stay in school because now they can see that dreams can happen and dreams can come true,” Smith said. “It’s a difficult journey; it’s a lot of work. But I think all of these little steps matter. To see this happen in a weekend all of a sudden makes you feel like, ‘I got it, the world is mine. I can do this.’”

Students involved in the project said they are excited to see their classmates’ reactions on Monday when seeing the hallways.

They also added that they think this project will help change the way people view the high school.

“It’s a sense of hope and pride because people talk so much crap about August Martin, it’s going to change how they look at the school, and students here are going to have so much pride coming here and saying ‘5Pointz did my school.’ Who else can say that?,” said 11th-grader Trivella Osborne.


When asked what they would say to the artists volunteering their time to transform their school the students on the Dream Team burst out in thank yous and cheers.

“They’re making history right now,” said ninth-grader Latoya Mann. “It’s a resurrection of August Martin and 5Pointz.”

The completed project will be revealed to the public on June 11 from 4 to 8 p.m. during an art show at the school. Some artists will also be selling their work on canvas in order to raise money for the high school.


Cops and kids get rid of Maspeth graffiti

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Volunteers and officers from the 104th Precinct spent their Saturday afternoon wiping out graffiti during a cleanup event targeting several vandalized walls in Maspeth.

Capt. Mark Wachter, the precinct’s commander, and P.O. Gonzalez, the precinct’s graffiti coordinator, led the cleanup efforts.

Teens and young adults from the precinct’s NYPD Law Enforcement Explorers Program and School Unit joined police and auxiliary officers in painting over graffiti tags and murals along Rust Street near the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone (IBZ). Community members were encouraged to meet the officers at one of three locations to pitch in.

The community cleanup targeted factory and warehouse facades on Flushing Avenue and Rust Street, as well the concrete barrier along the railroad tracks on Rust Street and Grand Avenue. Officers also tackled a large mural on a brick wall at the corner of Grand Avenue and 58th Road.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso
The paint and supplies were furnished through various donations, as well as through a coordinated effort with local civic group COMET (Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together).

For more information on reporting vandalism and future community cleanup events, visit the 104th Precinct Community Council at www.104PCC.org or follow the precinct on Twitter at @NYPD104Pct.


Teens busted after climbing up NYS Pavilion tower

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Two teens were busted for scaling the New York State Pavilion with graffiti-making tools over the weekend, reports said.

The pair were caught climbing several hundred feet up a decaying staircase of the 1964 World’s Fair structure on Sunday afternoon and hanging out on an observation deck, according to Parks Department officials and published reports.

Two boys, ages 14 and 15, were charged with trespassing and possession of a graffiti instrument, reports said. They were given juvenile reports and then released to their parents.

According to Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates, Park Enforcement officers found a hole in the perimeter fence, the rusty door leading to the staircase wide open, and a pair of pliers and a broken lock tossed on the ground.

The officers needed to use a makeshift ladder made of electrical cords to reach the top of the observation deck to reach the teens, Croft reported on the blog A Walk in the Park.


Woodside man beautifies neighborhood one fire alarm box at a time

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Call him the anti-graffiti artist.

Woodside resident John S. Colgan has turned outdoor walls, fire boxes, lampposts and hydrants into his canvas — not in an illegal effort at self-expression but to battle the defacing of his beloved neighborhood by graffiti.

Colgan got tired of waiting around for someone to clean up his community from the work of graffiti vandals, so instead he picked up a paintbrush and took matters into his own hands.

For the past three and a half years, Colgan, who goes by “Fire Alarm Guy” on Twitter, has been going around the western Queens neighborhood he calls home and fighting the problem of graffiti, along with bringing fire alarm boxes back to life.

“I wanted to do something nice for the neighborhood,” he said. “When I was a kid in the ’80s everything was pristine. People took care of things themselves back then. If you want to get rid of graffiti in the neighborhood, you have to do it yourself.”

After deciding to give back to community after attending church one morning, the 39-year-old security guard began to repaint lampposts, fire hydrants and fire alarm boxes in Woodside.

He has also taken the time to paint murals underneath bridges in the neighborhood, including a large American Flag, paid for by American Legion Post #1836, located on 32nd Avenue between 56th and 58th street. He plans to update the mural and add more detail to it during the summer. 

“That’s how it all started: I decided to give back, and now I’m addicted to it,” he said. 

Colgan said before he worked in the shadows, because he thought he would get into trouble for painting, but now he goes around talking to people about the issues, in hopes of getting more people involved. 

Taking things further, for the past two years, Colgan has teamed up with the Woodside Neighborhood Association and also begun going around covering up graffiti during a nightly patrol, which at first was just out of habit. Every night he drives around the neighborhood and finds fresh graffiti tags on walls and covers them up with paint he keeps at the ready in his car. He uses whatever color he has on hand. 

Members of the Woodside Neighborhood Association then come back to the site and paint over with a “battleship gray” color so that the new paint looks uniform with the rest. 

Photo courtesy of John S. Colgan

Photo courtesy of John S. Colgan

“The point is if you cover [the graffiti] within 24 hours, the taggers talk to each other and tell each other not to tag there,” he said. “The bottom line is people have to do it themselves. If they don’t fix it then they just get used to seeing it.”

Mostly all the paint used for the projects is purchased from a local shop called Gleason Paint, located at 65-01 Roosevelt Ave. Colgan said that at times the store donates paints and helps with any questions he might have. 

In the past couple of weeks, Colgan said he had noticed less graffiti in his neighborhood and has been able to move his cleanup project to Long Island City and parts of Jackson Heights. He also helps paint hydrants, lampposts and fire alarm boxes found in the perimeter of local police precincts such as the 114th and 108th precincts. 

As the weather gets warmer, Colgan plans to move further into the borough and help cover up graffiti in other areas such as Astoria and Corona. 

“The original goal was just to make it look nice and when I was painting people were stopping,” Colgan said. “The neighborhood is behind me now. They’re taking pride in the neighborhood.”

To see Colgan’s works and get updated information follow @firealarmguy75 on Twitter or @thewoodsideavenger on Instagram.


‘Shorty 140’ graffiti tagger arrested: report

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Laser Burners/Flickr Creative Commons

They got Shorty.

A graffiti artist famous among local authorities for leaving his “Shorty 140” tag on Queens overpasses has been arrested, according to a published report.

Alberto R. Rodriguez, 33, who has lived in College Point and Long Island at various times, has been charged with criminal mischief and the felony crime of making graffiti, according to Newsday.

Police eventually nabbed Rodriguez on Dec. 3 after picking him up in a DWI case and charged him with the graffiti crimes, the paper reported. They were able to catch him through surveillance and a database that logs graffiti tags throughout the city.

One of the “Shorty 140” tags that police collected, according to am New York, included the words “RIP John Gotti” along the Cross Island Parkway.

Rodriguez has long been a thorn in the side of police and community leaders, angry over his ever-present graffiti on highway overpasses. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton once fumed that seeing Shorty 140’s tag on graffiti while traveling to and from the Hamptons on weekends drove him out of his mind, according to a report in Newsday.

In addition to continuing his graffiti spree, Rodriguez has also developed a cult following as a rapper in recent years.


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.


Anti-police graffiti found on Astoria phone booths: reports

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

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.


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.


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.”


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.



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.



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.




Lewd graffiti scrawled on Hamilton Beach footbridge

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/file photo

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.


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.