October 29, By Christian Murray
The 5Pointz artists just won’t go away.
The artists, who filed a federal court lawsuit against the owner of the so-called ‘Graffiti Mecca’ on Oct. 8, were able to convince a judge to extend their existing temporary restraining order another 14 days—thereby stopping the owner, Jerry Wolkoff, from demolishing the building through Nov. 12.
The judge, Frederic Block, also called for a hearing as a means to determine whether he should issue a preliminary injunction. A preliminary injunction, if granted, would stop Wolkoff from demolishing the building until the lawsuit was resolved, which could take well over a year.
Block’s ruling follows a lawsuit filed by 16 artists against G&M Realty (Wolkoff), which argues that the building cannot be destroyed since it would undermine the plaintiffs’ artwork as defined by the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act.
The lawsuit, which is a long-shot, claims that many pieces of work are recognized throughout the country and the destruction of the artwork would damage the artists.
Jeannine Chanes, the attorney for the artists, said that the artwork should be protected since it was completed post 1990 (when the Act was introduced), is highly acclaimed, and was done with the permission of a property owner. Therefore, she said, the artwork cannot be altered without each artist’s consent.
However, Wolkoff’s attorneys have argued in court that the artists always knew the building was going to be demolished and that they had very little reason to believe the art would be up their permanently.
Wolkoff could not be reached for this article.