When I was growing up in New York, let’s just say many years ago, graffiti was definitely not something anyone would consider a form of art. As a matter of fact, it was considered and eye-sore, and there were steep fines for anyone caught “leaving there creative works” behind on walls, subway cars, or park benches. I even have a vague memory of the requirement for a license, or some other kind of documentation that your needs for spray paint were legitimate, otherwise, no sale of spray paint to just any old person.
However not everyone agreed that graffiti was something that needed to be suppressed, and so in the 1990s the Phun Phactory was founded in Long Island City, Queens. At the Phun Phactory graffiti turned into “Aerosol Art” and “Graffiti Artists” were allowed to ply their trade without fear of arrest or large fines. In 2001, to the dismay of many, including graffiti artist legend Michael “Iz the Wiz” Martin, the Phun Phactory closed its doors.
If you are an aspiring aerosol artist, or a veteran of the art-form, you need no longer contain your urge to decorate walls and subway cars with your special type of art because the Phun Phactory has reopened its doors as of June 19, 2010, in a new location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. According to Pat Di Lillo, one of the founders of the Phun Phactory, the hope is to create the world’s largest outdoor aerosol mural, “as an homage to one of its founders”, Iz the Wiz, who died exactly one year ago, at the age of 50.
About 60 artists came through the Phun Phactory’s new permanent space, which is located on North 15th Street and Wythe Avenue. On everyone’s minds at the opening was the desire to not only celebrate graffiti’s past, but also to make this special art form more accessible and relevant to a wider audience. The older artists also want to create more respect for graffiti as a means of self-expression to the younger generation.
“New York City does not acknowledge that they themselves started this art movement. So the significance of re-launching the Phun Phactory is creating a platform, an international platform for aerosol art to have exposure,” said Phun Phactory director Jeremy Vega.