New York State of Mind Amoeblog #59: Luxury Condos vs. Art: 5Pointz, The Clocktower, Propaganda Anonymous

Posted by Billyjam, December 11, 2013 12:38pm | Post a Comment

Prop Anon "Luxury Condos" (from the album Squat The Condos)

When I first met New York City based emcee/singer Propaganda Anonymous (aka Prop Anon who is from NYC's Mindspray hip-hop crew) five years ago he was busy slapping his "Squat The Condos" stickers on lampposts and walls all around the city. That simple three-worded message of his sticker was twofold: to both promote his forthcoming album of the same name and, more importantly, to encourage those who had been displaced by development (IE luxury condos going up, most notably in developing parts of Brooklyn at the time) to squat these new condo constructions. "The negative impact that these new overpriced, extremely expensive luxury condos, that only the very rich in New York City can afford, will be felt for a long time to come - especially on the artists and creative people," he told me at that time.

Prop Anon's predictions could not have been more accurate. In the half decade since then New York City's luxury condo housing market has grown by leaps and bounds - making a select few very rich at the expense of longtime low income residents of New York and struggling artists. Among the most recent victims of luxury condo developments have been 5Pointz and The Clocktower - two art spaces that, in the past few weeks, have both been displaced to make way for luxury condo developments.

Hunt Rodriguez on his work Rest In Power 5Pointz - Amoeblog Interview

Above is an impromptu interview I conducted last Saturday (December 7th) afternoon at 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens with writer/sculptor Hunt Rodriguez whose current favorite form of art is doing sculptures like this one - Rest In Power 5Pointz - and having people sign it. Other works of his have included ones dedicated against gun violence and child abuse. Last weekend,  right as workers were putting up a fence around the main entrance to the former aerosol art haven, the artist had taken his tribute work of art out to the the very location of the graffiti mecca that was recently whitewashed over in preparation for its destruction to make way for high rise luxury condo construction. Rodriguez and his sculpture will be at North 7th Street between Kent
and Wyatt in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
this Saturday, December 14th from noon to 3pm. More info on the 5Pointz Facebook page.

Following 40 years in its historic Manhattan tower home, the Clocktower Gallery and its radio station are "about to be renewed, re-imagined, re-constituted, and relocated with projects in every borough, hamlet, and port across the city," announced the curators at the unique New York City Clocktower space in recent months much to the upset of many in the arts community here. In short this meant that the alt arts organization was getting kicked out of their home of four decades. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg the building's owners - the city of New York - sold it to a developer who will be turning it into another luxury TriBeCa condo building. The story is a familiar one in an already expensive city where now, with a booming real estate market, it is increasingly impossible for arts organizations to survive.

A couple of Saturdays ago, on Nov 30th, the beloved downtown Manhattan alternative arts space exited forever its unique 13th floor, 108 Leonard Street, New York location (an actual clock tower) that had been its home for 40 years. A day earlier, as a few remaining things were still to be packed up, I stopped by this truly wonderful space (even without any art on its walls and with all of the artists spaces now emptied out - it still felt good) to look around, even go up into the tower area, and to sit down and chat with director of programs David Weinstein to ask him about the illustrious history of The Clocktower Gallery, that was founded by Alanna Heiss back in the early 1970's when New York City was a run down gritty city, and its broadcast affiliate AIR (Art International Radio).

Without any bitterness and in a matter of fact way he told me something that many others had told me about the changing face of the New York City arts scene: that, due in large part to the booming condo market, that underground alternative arts spaces like his have all pretty much been squeezed out of Manhattan and other parts and forced to find homes in such more affordable regions of NYC as far reaching parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and over in Jersey City. See the video below for what else Weinstein had to say in his Amoeblog interview about The Clocktower's history and projected future. Also below are several photos I took of the Clocktower building/space when I stopped by there recently before condo construction would begin.

David Weinstein, The Clocktower's Director of Programs

Relevant Tags

Prop Anon (3), New York State Of Mind (92), The Clocktower (1), Propaganda Anonymous (2), David Weinstein (1), Hunt Rodriguez (1), New York City Art (1), 5pointz (4), Artonair (1), Nyc (85), Art International Radio (1), Graffiti (52), New York City (101), 5 Pointz Whitewashed Over (4), Nyc (85), Ny State Of Mind Amoeblog (63)