I remember the first time I laid eyes on 5 Pointz. I was new to Queens and was trying to familiarize myself with the Long Island City area. One day I was riding the 7 train home and as it rounded the bend towards Queensborough Plaza, I was totally struck by this awesome building that was covered in mesmerizing graffiti. I was probably the only person standing there with my mouth gaping open but as soon as I got home, I did a Google serach to find out what that magical place was and learned that it was called 5 Pointz.
Since that first encounter, I’ve had the opportunity to visit this graffiti art mecca and even had the chance to photograph artists creating murals during The Artist Process, an event produced by fellow artist, Marthalicia Matarrita.
Photograph taken by Jaimee Todd Mural by Danielle Mastrion. To see more of her work, please visit www.daniellemastrion.com
Today, I’m really sad to say that 5 Pointz is coming and down and will be replaced with yet another damn high rise building and shopping center. The building’s owners, Jerry and David Wolkoff, had the murals whitewashed in the middle of the night. I found out this morning when I watched the news and saw footage of artists and other onlookers sobbing in despair. I knew that the owners were going to demolish the building but I didn’t expect this insult. They claim that they were doing the artists a favor by whitewashing the murals first so that the artists didn’t have to witness their art being destroyed in the demolition. I hardly find that a benevolent act, especially since it was done under the cover of night without allowing people to take one last look or photograph of the murals.
The demolition of 5 Pointz is just another example of how New York City is gentrifying into an unrecognizable shell of itself. The grit and the edginess that made the City feels so magical seems to be ebbing away. Yes, I realize the owners have a right to do what they want with their own property but what they’re destroying a cultural icon. Supposedly they intend to create a dedicated space for graffiti where the new buildings will be but it won’t be the same. You just can’t recreate the sense of community that was suddenly stripped away.
I’m grateful that I was able to take pictures and that I still have them, but I really regret not going back there again before this happened. When I heard that 5 Pointz was in danger of being taken away, I always told myself that I would come back…but now it’s too late.
This lovely collection of contradicting words is the theme behind Live Unchained’s upcoming awards ceremony that will be taking place this fall. The show’s theme was inspired by the British Somali poet Warsan Shire’s of the same title, which celebrates the complexities of womanhood. This exciting awards show will honor the complex, talented and multi-faced community of Live Unchained artists but for it to become reality, we will need to raise funds to cover costs. Check out the amazing campaign video at my favorite fundraising platform, Indiegogo and contribute today!
The Train & the Cloud 11″x14″ Giclee on photographique paper. $75.00
Today, I’m mailing off giclee prints that one of my patrons ordered recently. I tried something a little new; adding a two inch border to really draw attention to the subject matter on 11×14 inch paper. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out and can’t wait for them to go out!
Lenox Lounge 11″x14″ Giclee on photographique paper. $75.00
Look Upon 11″x14″ Giclee on photographique paper. $75.00
If you’re interested in ordering a print of my work, please feel free to email at email@example.com.
During the holidays, I had a chance to visit the new Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, Michigan. I first wrote about the museum when it was still in the planning phases a while back, and was actually one of my first few posts on this blog. It’s so cool to be able to see it when it was completed, in all its surreal glory right smack of the Michigan State campus.
The structure itself is awesome. I got so caught up in taking pics of the different angles of the ultra-modern facade that I didn’t get a chance to take a really good shot of the entire building. Most of the shots were more abstract and artistic. That aside, I highly encourage anyone in the East Lansing/Lansing area to take a trip out there. It’s so cool to have a museum of that magnitude in that part of town and adds a dynamic flair to this area of Michigan and my alma mater, MSU.
Interestingly, the layout of the museum is very non-traditional. Collections and exhibitions are paired in seemingly stark contrast; Warhols are hung near art from the Renaissance Period, suspended sculptures are just around the corner from a flashy video art exhibition, large scale installations abound on the first floor.
Out of respect for museum policy, I didn’t photograph the works on display but I did manage to take shots of the building itself and had fun playing with the images. Check ‘em out!
Remember when I used to paint? Apparently someone does. Last week I sold one of my originals, Cloud 9, to a young woman who was looking to buy something that reflected her current mood. She had just gotten a promotion at work and liked my piece because she felt like she was floating on cloud 9. She plans on hanging it in her office.
I love hearing stories like this. It makes me feel so good when my art makes people feel good, uplifted or it enhances a positive feeling they’re already experiencing. I think I like to make exuberant pieces to remind people that are still reasons to feel energized and happy.
I have had this piece hanging on my wall for the last few years and while I will miss it, I’m glad that it will be going to a good home. Knowing that puts me on cloud 9
You can see more of my paintings on my online portfolio right here.
As I hinted a few posts ago, I went and bought a new baby over Thanksgiving break. He’s the new danger, armed, and loaded with pixels.
His name is Leon.
I’ve been coveting a D7000 for quite a while but they don’t come cheap. Luckily, I was able to snag Leon in a massive door buster sale at the Lansing Camera Shop and was quite happy to bring him home.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to play with Leon as I have been strapped with work but now that some free time is in my imminent future, I have time to study my camera in more detail. Believe me, it’s necessary because, as one of my photographer friends pointed out, “That’s some professional shit!” I did manage to take a shot or two when some relatives came over to visit my parents while I was home. My young cousin, Dillon, was one of my first eager subjects.
Leon does take some nice shots and has a lot of great bells and whistles that I think I will have fun trying to figure out. Hopefully he will play nice with Lulu, who I still will be dragging along to photo shoots when my boyfriend and I scout out new locations.
In addition to being a featured artist, I’m also proud to say that I’m also the Legal Advisor to the fantastic artist collective Live Unchained. If you haven’t check it out yet, now is definitely the time to do so and learn more about the fantastic female artists of the African Diaspora and what it means to Live Unchained!
I pass this above ground train often when I’m running my errands in my neighborhood of Astoria. On a particularly beautiful day, I saw an enormous white cloud that looked like cotton candy hanging luminously in a perfect blue sky. At the same time, a slow-moving subway train moved toward the cloud, looking as if it might become engulfed. I snapped this shot, somewhat envious of the incredible view that the train conductor must have.
This print and many others are available for sale. Check out the complete collection here!
The last few weeks since my show have represented a state of flux for me. Inevitably when you have something as exhilarating as I did, there’s the inevitable “return to earth” feeling when you decrescendo. Sometimes it’s a natural, gradual process and sometimes it’s a meteoric descent. I think mine was more towards the latter. Nothing really catastrophic, but I had outside events kind of bring me down faster than I would have liked, coupled with the general physical fatigue . Since then, I’ve been trying to think of the next move.
I think I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to leap into the next venture because I felt like I had to take advantage of the momentum shift. Doing so, added to the pressure and fatigue and it wasn’t long before I felt like doing nothing at all. I even lost my appetite for taking photographs.
So of course, it does leave me with the inevitable question of, what’s next?
Artistically, I still have projects in the pipeline that I want to get done. While I’ve pondered the idea of going back to painting, the inspiration for doing so hasn’t quite hit me so I’m going to let that come as it should. In the meantime, I’ve been making a point of checking out art shows and exhibits to soak up inspiration. As for photography, I was inspired by Gordon Parks’ exhibit at the Schomburg to do work that has a political bent to it. With all the insanity going on with the elections, I would really like to use art as a way of using my voice in what has becoming an increasingly hostile political and social climate. Seeing Gordon’s works as an indictment of racial inequality in this country reawakened something in me.
On another front, I also have plans to develop an e-book soon, which will give me a chance to flex my writing muscles beyond my blog. I’m looking forward to dusting off the old “research” cobwebs and getting into it. I’ll be sharing more of that soon.
In the meantime, I’m in somewhat of recovery mode this week, as I have been putting in very long hours at the day job and my eyes feel like they are going to fall out of my head. And with that savory image, I shall sign off for now.
Yesterday I did my first ever radio interview with the lovely ladies of theKNU! It was a blast! I had so much fun. Jade and Tarsha Vega bring a wonderful energy that is inviting and energizing. Talking to them felt like hanging out with two friends at the coffee shop as we laughed and swapped ideas and thoughts. I had a great time talking about theVisions of New York,my background as a self-taught artist, and what the future holds in store.
In case you weren’t able to catch the live broadcast, you can listen to here or listen to it as a podcast on iTunes.
Please be sure to check out theKNU every Tuesday on Global Voices Radio, every Tuesday 7 pm (EST), 4pm (PST).