April 9, 2013 By Bill Parry
Long Island City, Queens: The future of several artists groups that occupy space in the 5 Pointz warehouse complex has been thrown into a state of flux as the worldwide “graffiti Mecca” is likely to be razed to make way for residential high rise buildings.
Local Project, a non-profit that helps new artists get off the ground, is one of those groups located inside the greater building complex that is making provisions for the impending demolition.
“Our landlord told us to get out by August,” said the group’s director Carolina Penafiel, who added that the nonprofit is now looking for space elsewhere.
The 5 Pointz complex is an iconic block-long factory and warehouse famous for its 350 spray painted murals that have covered its exterior since 1993. The site has become a tourist destination for art and music fans over the years.
Penafiel spends much of her time working on how she can raise funds so her group can move to another Long Island City location. “I’m really hoping to hit the lottery or have some rich philanthropist volunteer to help us,” she said.
In an effort to raise funds, Local Project has set up a vintage boutique and thrift shop in a storage room next to its 45-10 Davis Street gallery space– called The Fancy Fox. The shop is packed with art, clothes, household accessories, music, books and other eclectic items.
“I’ve accumulated so much artsy stuff over the years I figured it was a way to raise some funds,” Penafiel said. She said if Local Project were to close for good, “hundreds of artists would have no place to go, no place to grow.”
The Fancy Fox is open to the public from Wednesday through Sunday, from 1pm to 8pm. It will also be open day and night by appointment. The shop is also accepting items from designers, artists, musicians and the general public.
Local Project has hosted workshops, exhibitions, performances and fashion shows at its 5 Pointz location for the past 5 years. It has been in Long Island City for 10 years.
Penafiel is working feverishly to generate the funds to remain in Long Island City. “I really want to continue this somewhere,” she said. “This is my life and my love.”
The group also plans a series of events this summer before it leaves.
“We’re going to go out with a bang,” Penafiel said, adding, “we’re working…on concerts, block parties and street fairs. This summer’s going to be crazy.”