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Huge Mural Depicting Newtown Creek Going Up On Long Island City School Building

New mural being painted at Hunters Point Campus in Long Island City (Photo and video courtesy of GreenPoint Innovations)

Oct. 12, 2020 By Allie Griffin

A massive mural featuring a giant heron, a cormorant and a glowing sunset is going up on a school building in Long Island City.

The mural is being painted on the side of the Q404 Hunters Point campus building, which is located on Center Boulevard–across the East River from the United Nations headquarters.

The artwork stems from a competition launched during Climate Week, Sept. 21 through Sept. 27, by the UN and GreenPoint Innovations (GPI), a production organization focused on sustainability. The competition was also organized by The Climate Group and Newtown Creek Alliance.

The competition, GreenPoint EARTH 2020: Screens2Streets, aims to spotlight global climate issues using art.

The winning piece — now being painted — depicts the past, present and future of the nearby Newtown Creek, a federal Superfund site. It includes birds, seagrasses, sassafras and smoke stacks.

The mural illustrates the connection between industrialization, climate change and the health of local communities, according to the artist Federico Massa, a Brooklyn-based Italian native who also goes by the name Iena Cruz.

The work is New York City’s first carbon neutral street art and has little to no environmental footprint. GPI is providing recycled and repurposed materials and environmentally friendly paint from Smog Armor for the piece. NYC Materials for the Arts is also providing recycled and repurposed materials.

“Art is a powerful medium that can help raise awareness of the daily harms we inflict on our planet,” Massa said.

“Thanks to the private and public partnerships formed by GreenPoint Innovations, the mural will be created in an eco-conscious way, including my use of paint that’s able to consume pollution from the air, bringing environmental benefits directly to the community.”

GPI will release a short film about the Newtown Creek and its history of pollution in tandem with the mural.

The film and mural aim to bring the issue of pollution to the attention of students who attend the Hunters Point campus where Massa is painting the piece.

“This piece will inspire young people who have already proven themselves as leaders in the climate crisis and show that art and purpose can help us build a greener, healthier and sustainable future,” said Stephen Donofrio, Principal and Founder of GPI.

Students at the Hunters Point Community Middle School, The Academy for TV and Film and The Riverview School all attend classes in the Q404 building, located at 1-50 51st Ave.

The massive mural will brighten the day of students and teachers who are returning to the building after months of quarantine, school administrators said.

“For our school community returning to this location after six months of quarantine, this installation is a way to lift our spirits and remind us of the tenuous yet incredible relationship we have with the natural world,” said Sarah Goodman, Founding Principal of Hunters Point Community Middle School.

New mural being painted at Hunters Point Campus in Long Island City (Courtesy of GreenPoint Innovations)

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Fox oversimplification strikes again

In a sweeping 32-page decision eviscerating the legal arguments of a disgruntled Queens real estate developer, a US Appeals Court affirmed the rights and monetary damages awarded to a group of artists whose works were destroyed without warning or consent in 2013.
The artists sued the developer, Gerald Wolkoff for violating their rights after he whitewashed their work at the famous 5Pointz graffiti art mecca in New York to make way for condos. A jury ruled in favor of the artists in November 2017, but it was up to a judge to determine the extent of the damages.
In February 2018, Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Frederick Block awarded the artists a total $6.75 million in a landmark decision. The sum included $150,000—the maximum legal penalty—for each of the 45 destroyed works at the center of the case.
The trial was a key test of the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), which grants visual artists certain “moral rights” for their work. Previous VARA cases rarely made it to trial, instead settled privately.
But the act, which was added to copyright laws in 1990, disallows the modification of works in ways that could be considered harmful to artists’ reputations, and grants protections to artworks deemed to be of “recognized stature.”
Wolkoff was rebuffed on all points in the latest ruling, and the court took the additionally extraordinary step of citing his own lawyers against him. “Wolkoff’s own expert acknowledged that temporary artwork can achieve recognized stature,” according to the decision.
The ruling also took Wolkoff to task for making misrepresentations about how his business would have been harmed if he did not move to immediately whitewash the works. In his arguments, Wolkoff claimed that certain tax credits available to him would have expired if he did not move quickly to paint over the works.
Yet he did not even have a demolition permit for the building when he began his campaign to cover up the murals.
The court also, in two separate instances, took issue with Wolkoff’s assertion that he “would do it again” if faced with the same situation.
“In these circumstances, a maximum statutory award could serve to deter Wolkoff from future violations of VARA,” the decision says. “It could further encourage other building owners to negotiate in good faith with artists whose works are incorporated into structures.”
The court went to pronounced lengths to explain its affirmation citing the importance of works by unconventional artists such as Christo and Banksy.
“For example, noted street artist Banksy has appeared alongside Apple founder Steve Jobs on Time magazine’s list of world’s 100 most influential people,” the decision reads.
It also notes that although his images are often painted over, “Banksy’s work is nonetheless acknowledged, both by the art community and the general public, as of significant artistic merit and cultural importance.”
The document goes on to cite the spectacular sale and self-destruction of Banksy’s Girl With a Balloon at Sotheby’s in October 2018: “With Banksy’s street art, the temporary quality of this work has only added to its recognition.”

The decision additionally notes that Jonathan Cohen, aka Meres One, “a distinguished aerosol artist,” started working with Wolkoff in the early 2000s, when the developer undertook to install artwork in a series of dilapidated warehouse buildings he owned in Long Island City.
“Cohen and other artists rented studio spaces in the warehouses and filled the walls with aerosol art, with Cohen serving as curator. Under Cohen’s leadership, [5Pointz]… evolved into a major global center for aerosol art. It attracted thousands of daily visitors, numerous celebrities, and extensive media coverage.”
Vara said the final decision was also vindication for Cohen. The court “upheld that Meres One was valid as both a curator and an artist and that his selection had meaning.”

Nom de graffiti

Maybe they’ll make a few million when the school decides to paint over it years from now and the artists decide to sue.

Thanks for turning a positive article into a negative rant...

Yeah, the federal courts upheld the Visual Artists Rights Act on 5 Pointz, how dare they respect the laws of our country!

Maybe copy and paste your tired rant on an article that’s not about a positive community event?


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