New York State of Mind Amoeblog #52: Sheep in NYC?, 5 Pointz R.I.P., CMJ Music Marathon, WFMU's RadioVision 2013

Posted by Billyjam, October 16, 2013 03:20pm | Post a Comment

I must admit I had to do a serious double take upon when, a few weeks ago, I first walked by the gas station on 10th Avenue at 24th Street in Manhattan's Chelsea District that I always walk by (see photos above and below) following been away from NYC for a just few weeks to witness sheep roaming in the hilly grass of where not long ago drivers pulled in to fill up their tanks with Unleaded. Damn! I thought to myself - How long have I actually been gone for this to unfold? Am I in some weird parallel science fiction universe? WTF!  Like a twisted futuristic scene from some post-apocalyptic New York City set, Sci Fi movie (think Will Smith and his dog roaming the deserted Manhattan streets in the 2007 film I Am Legend - sans the virus and the horror stuff) I immediately conjured up what the city that never sleeps might look like if humans deserted the island of Manhattan. This type of imagery is likely what the people behind this wonderful short-term art installation, whose all too short six-week run ends this Sunday October 20th, had hoped to trigger. 

The exhibit, which includes a total of 25  ‘Moutons’ made from epoxy stone and bronze, includes works by the artist from the years 1979 to 1996 and is described by curators as 
"Set in a surrealist landscape amidst the existing industrial gas station architecture, the sheep symbolize Lalanne’s mission to demystify art and capture its joie de vivre. ‘Moutons’ have become Lalanne’s most iconic work, embodying his very approach to art while commenting on the nature of art itself." Sheep Station is open through Sunday October 20th. It is free public space event located at 239 10th Ave., at 24th St. More information.


The gas station site that is now Sheep Station is not the only New York City location that will soon make way for the construction of new luxury condos.  After years of an uncertain future, the tragic yet inevitable fate of 5 Pointz in Long Island City - the longtime internationally renowned graffiti mecca that occupied a large 200,000-square-foot factory building in the recently gentrified Queens nabe, just got confirmed. Under the outgoing mayor Bloomberg administration the New York City Council recently, unanimously approved a plan to demolish the beloved outdoor public street art space and in its place construct two spanking new modern large expensive apartment complexes. With a planned project cost of $400 million the demolition could begin by as soon as year's end of the warehouse structures that make up the revered outdoor public space street art museum/gallery of 5 Pointz. This place is a historic landmark for the hip-hop generation. The photos above and left were both taken a couple of months ago on August 11th for the historic 40th birthday of hip-hop when Marley Marl from nearby Queensbridge (whose name is boldly emblazoned in aerosol paint at 5 Pointz) joined the creator of hip-hop himself Kool Herc who specifically chose 5 Pointz as the place in NYC to celebrate the important date. 

But within months it will be knocked down to make way for new luxury condos. Longtime passionate curator/artist Meres-One (pictured above) and everyone else involved are far from happy with this recent announcement. And even though this fate was imminent it still comes as a shock to all the people who love(d) 5 Pointz and the Phun Factory as it was known before it morphed into 5 Pointz under Meres-One's direction. There is a petition in place to fight the ruling of the council but odds are construction will continue as planned and on schedule.

There is talk that the new building may encourage art on its walls but the response to those in the graffiti scene is mostly one of  Fuck that - why should do free art for these real estate merchants to profit off? Like so many graffit/street art fans I am going to really miss 5 Pointz. It was a place I loved to stop by and would do so regularly as a 7 train rider into Manhattan from Queens. Oft times on impulse I would hop off the train at the Court Square stop a block over and and stroll over to 5Pointz to check out the new and old art.  It was a place where, on weekends especially, there would always be something going on with new art being put up. 5 Pointz was a place that people came form all over the world to visit; just like they came to visit NYC's American Museum of Natural History or the Guggenheim or MoMA or its PS1 which is right beside 5 Pointz. And so  by allowing this cultural landmark to be demolished in the name of "development" is a slap in the face to the arts and NYC culture. For more visit the 5 Pointz website.

This week, following two weeks of suffering the impact a Federal shutdown that put around 800,000 workers on furlough across the country and shut down national monuments and parks including the Statue of Liberty, local NY authorities reopened the Lady Liberty location which had been turning away droves of tourists to New York City since the sudden closure a fortnight ago.

This week many of the visitors to NYC will be in town for the big annual music and film festival event that is CMJ Music Marathon that began yesterday and runs through Saturday night, October 19th. For the hella long list of artists performing click here. And for general registration and conference information visit the main page of the CMJ website.

Also happening this weekend is the third annual RadioVision on Saturday, October 19th.  Produced by the good folks at my radio station WFMU the all day conference, "celebrates radio's future as it takes on new forms in the digital age for the medium's fans, tinkerers, and future thinkers. It includes a day of talks, panel discussions and performances." This year's keynote speaker will be Laurie Anderson while speakers will include Alexis Ohanian of Reddit, Starlee Kine of This American Life, and WFMU's own Ken Freedman, Liz Berg, and Tom Scharpling while programming highlights will include new streaming services and community platforms, sessions on radio essays, DJ tools, and comedy podcasts. RadioVision 2013 takes place October 19th at Scholastic Auditorium at 557 Broadway, SoHo NY, NY. More info.  And in honor of Laurie Anderson being the keynote speaker at RadioVision I leave you with a the experimental artist's video for her 1981 crossover song "Oh Superman" as displayed in the MoMA.

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