Weird Job: Aerosol Artist

July 26th, 2007 by kathy

774690715_9bcdab9de1_m.jpgFunny thing about New York City. The only two boroughs that seem to get any attention are Manhattan and Brooklyn. Manhattan? Sure. Makes sense. Brooklyn? Hmmm. Worst of all, pubs like Time Out and New York seemed to give BK so much love both inside the book and on their covers that I decided NOT to renew my subscription to either mag. It was total overkill. Plus, there is life outside of Brooklyn. Sorry, dudes. I live in Queens—you know, one of the other boroughs that make up New York City.

Anyway, I was super psyched to read a story about a cool, must-check-out site in Queens/”veteran graffiti artist,” Jonathan Cohen in The Christian Science Monitor. Finally. Cohen plays “volunteer curator” for a section of Long Island City (Yup, in Queens), known as 5 Pointz, where graffiti artists or “aerosol artists”—evidentially, that’s the PC word—can legally show off their work on the walls of a 200,000-square-foot warehouse. Love it. An artist living outside the cube in Queens!

“These days, the thin-faced, hazel-eyed Cohen is always on call, which may explain why his five o’clock shadow is closer to 10 o’clock. When he’s not answering his cellphone or making sure the building isn’t tagged illegally, he gives tours to interested onlookers. And every Sunday afternoon he teaches aerosol art to a class of 10 kids—after they earn their keep with two hours of scraping walls, painting them, and picking up trash.

Listen in on the class, and you’d swear you were hearing a foreign language. Some translations, then: a “tag” is an artist’s basic signature; a “piece” is a signature with a detailed font and colors; and a “production” or “mural” is a scene with a concept.”

234213841_fc49172f8a_m.jpgAnd 5 Pointz hasn’t gone unnoticed by celebs. Evidentially, R&B singer Joss Stone wanted to use 5 Pointz (Yup, the 5 Pointz in Queens) as a backdrop in one of her videos. Natch, Cohen took the call.

“Cohen had no idea who she was, but after talking to her, he gave her crew the go-ahead. He even did a mural of Stone’s face for the video, in which he appears at the end.

Cohen also flew to Los Angeles to paint Stone’s body for the cover of her latest album, “Introducing Joss Stone.” He had never used powdery body paint before or painted anyone’s entire body, but “I’ll never turn down a job,” he says.”

I hear that. You can read the entire piece here or hop on the 7 train and check out 5 Pointz in person.

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