Once upon a time a long time ago in 1934 a tune popped up on records and radio called What a Diff’rence A Day Made and twenty five years latter when I was a kid a great singer named Dinah Washington had a hit with it but called it What A Difference A Day Makes.
Eighty years after the first version I watched this happen when a bunch of guys with white paint and police protection painted out the beautiful murals that had covered the complex of buildings in Long Island City located between Jackson Avenue, Crane and Davis Streets and the railroad for so many years. One day the building was brilliant and alive; the next it was painted over and distressed.
I came to 5Pointz late, about 2010 or so, but I’d documented it thoroughly as often as it made sense and my schedule allowed. To me it was much more fun and stimulating than PS 1, the Museum of Modern Art outpost a block away. To me the average street artist is much more exciting than an academy graduate. Most large cities have a place where street and public artists are allowed to paint legally; 5Pointz was perhaps the best in the world.
I went out to take pictures in mid-November and it looked like this (figure 1). I took the picture from the 7 Train as it headed back into Manhattan. A couple of days later vandals hired by the building’s owners painted over most of the murals and I took hundreds of photographs on 19 November. I returned on 1 December and took more, including another from the L Train that shows the white paint and the words ART MURDER emblazoned on the south side of the building (figure 2). The building is still there, as is the white paint but the story isn’t over yet.
By Hank O’Neal, Photographer