Tag Archives: Graffiti

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


| 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


| 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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Woodhaven graffiti surges


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

Tag, you’re it.

About 60 percent of mailboxes in Woodhaven are tagged right now, according to Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) president Ed Wendell. By the end of last summer, nearly, if not all, mailboxes and fire poles in the neighborhood were graffiti-free, he said.

But during the winter, when Wendell said it’s harder to do cleanups, the vandals went back to make their mark on their favorite “canvas,” USPS mailboxes.

“It’s not really good painting weather,” he said. “You just do your best. When the springtime comes, you just do it all again over.”

Captain Elwood Selover, head of the Citywide Vandals Task Force, spoke to the 102nd Precinct Community Council on Tuesday, March 19 about how the NYPD combats graffiti.

While it’s considered a relatively minor crime, Selover said graffiti in a neighborhood can give a certain feel of lawlessness. By tracking certain marks, the division has been able to arrest taggers for up to 100 charges, he said, across several boroughs.

Captain Elwood Selover at the 102nd Precinct Community Council meeting about graffiti. 

“The little things take care of the big things,” Selover said. “People are doing jail time for it.”

Because vandals traditionally like to have their own tags, the unit has been able to track handwriting, and determine which are gang related.

Wendell said he hopes to have Selover or someone from the unit speak at a WRBA meeting soon so residents can get an idea of how the NYPD tracks taggers. He said he and other WRBA members will start going out and repainting mailboxes when the weather gets warmer.

“When you leave it alone,” he said, “You’re telling the people who did this ‘We’re not serious about enforcing it.’”

 

 

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Lindenwood graffiti cleaned up


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Joann Ariola

Lindenwood residents united to take down a tag.

On the weekend of September 29, vandals hit nearly an entire wall of the medical building located at 82-12 151st Avenue, residents said.

Dr. Anthony Napolitano, who practices in and owns the building, noticed the graffiti, according to Lindenwood Alliance President Joann Ariola.

Napolitano planned to pay to remove the tags out of his own pocket, but Ariola said she advised him there were several options to remove the graffiti: one through the mayor’s office, and another through Councilmemer Eric Ulrich’s office.

Ariola said Napolitano opted for Ulrich’s cleanup program, City Solution — contracted through the Woodhaven Business Improvement District.

By Monday, October 8, City Solution was at the site to remove the vandalism.

The 106th Precinct is investigating this as a criminal case.

Napolitano’s next step is to coat the wall to prevent further marking, along with installing lights and video cameras around the area. He plans on paying for the preventative measures.

Ariola noted the quick response was thanks to a community effort to keep the neighborhood clean and safe.

“Once again, The Lindenwood Alliance proves that working together gets things done,” she said.

Graffiti cleaned up in Glendale


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of State Senator Joe Addabbo's office

The 104th Precinct has a new ally in its war on graffiti — a new power washer.

“There were certain buildings — like brick — that we wouldn’t paint over, but now we can clean up the graffiti,” said Police Officer Justin Dambinskas.

The power washer was used to remove graffiti from the road barriers along 80th Street adjacent to Atlas Park on Saturday, September 15. Alex Maureau, constituent liaison in State Senator Joseph Addabbo’s office, joined the clean-up to rid the area of trash and overgrown weeds.

The paint, gloves, brushes and trash bags were provided by the senator’s office.

Dambinskas said that while there is still some graffiti in the area, the problem has waned.

He said the 400 graffiti arrests in the precinct last year have been cut in half.

“Because of the arrests and because it gets cleaned within a week, people won’t spray paint here anymore; they’re leaving the precinct to spray paint,” said Dambinskas, who is on the precinct’s graffiti unit.

Last year, the 104th Precinct removed graffiti from more than 1,600 spots; this year the number is 800, he said.