Graffiti headache at State Pavilion

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http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/graffiti-headache-at-state-pavilion/article_4f4a2864-2459-5bac-a640-a9b6e3f40cff.html

Where does he get off calling the people who have worked so hard on this "a motley crew?"

Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:54 am, Thu Jan 3, 2013.

by Joseph Orovic, Assistant Managing/Online Editor | 0 comments

The New York State Pavilion’s rotunda received an unwelcome addition over the last month: graffiti riddling its crumbling, red-and-white interior walls.

Over a dozen “tags” now line the World’s Fair landmark’s interior ring, with bubble letters in various shades set at 6- to 10-foot intervals. The adjacent towers that supported what is left of the “Tent of Tomorrow” also have sporadic scrawls.

The vandalism — or street art, depending on whom you ask — has frustrated a motley crew of preservationists who have spent years trying restore the pavilion ahead of their big plans for the World’s Fair’s 50th anniversary in 2014.

The exact source of the graffiti is unknown. The Parks Department said in a statement the NYPD is investigating the graffiti as part of its citywide vandalism task force.

The agency said the vandals broke in by cutting out a section of the fence surrounding the pavilion. Keeping them out is another matter, according to preservationists.

The agency added it will remove the graffiti by its usual means, power washing, which it does with all landmarks, according to a spokesman.

“That’s the question of the moment,” said John Piro, who has repainted the pavilion’s exterior over the last two years.

Keeping the pavilion closed to the public has become a game of whack-a-mole. First, chain-link fences were pried open. Some gates were ripped clear off their hinges. Those lapses have been addressed with a bit of creativity using plywood, bricks and rebar. But new vulnerabilities have sprung up.

The most recent vandals do occasionally leave clues pointing to a resourceful bunch. The mezzanine level of the pavilion includes strands of knotted wiring as well as a ladder. The chain that keeps the pavilion’s northern gate closed has also been shrinking, presumably because the graffiti artists cut it open and then Parks Department employees keep re-locking it, said Mitch Silverstein, who joined Piro in repainting the pavilion.

The perpetrators even broke into the trio of adjacent towers, posting photos on social media websites of the view from what used to be cafeterias and the VIP section during the World’s Fair.

The entrance door to the shortest, 60-foot tower, had been locked and bolted shut, with a crossbar to boot. The bar now swings loosely beside the door, and the old locks and handle have been mangled open.

Silverstein believes the skatepark next to the rotunda, which opened in 2010, has brought in some of the vandals. Past visits to the rotunda’s interior have revealed makeshift skating ramps.

“They gave them the skatepark and that’s not cool, so why not do their thing in here,” Silverstein said.

The preservationists, Piro, Silverstein, Gary Miller and Jim Brown, now face a bevy of headaches. First, they need to paint over the graffiti — essentially repeating the years spent fixing the exterior. They also hope to get the city, Parks, and associated agencies invested in preventing any further damage to the interior.

Ideas within the group abound. Clearly, the pavilion’s neglected state invites vandalism, they said.

The remnant of the 1964-65 World’s Fair was designed by famed architect Philip Johnson. It was probably best known for its terrazzo mosaic tile map of New York State, as well as the “Tent of Tomorrow” overhead. What’s left of the map rests below a layer of gravel at the pavilion’s center and the tent is more like a rusted hulk.

The state’s Board for Historic Preservation gave the pavilion landmark status in September 2009, but has been largely absent in giving the structure any sort of visible help.

Piro and company plan to start painting the interior this spring. They think visible efforts to restore the interior will make some vandals think twice before tagging the walls again.

“There’s always going to be the person or two who are going to do this no matter what, but you’d like to think most of them won’t when they see it’s being taken care of,” Silverstein said.

What they need, though, is manpower and donations in the form of paint. The preservationists hope to entice companies that had pavilions at the 1965 World’s Fair such as Ford and IBM to participate in a 50th anniversary commemoration of the event, with small-scale acts of preservation planned ahead of 2014.

Piro said any potential volunteers or donors can reach him via email at hellgate49@aol.com.

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Posted · Report post

I said the exact same thing a half hour ago! I am not a fan of that description at all.. :(

I also despise the fact that the vandals get to have their "tags" featured prominently in the photo. I would imagine that they would be proud of that, while the rest of us feel that they should be ashamed.

The good thing about the article is that it gets Johnny's email address out there... maybe we will get donations or vounteers out of it.

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I also want to add that I did not say this, which was quoted, and actually it does not make a lot of sense either:

“They gave them the skatepark and that’s not cool, so why not do their thing in here,” Silverstein said.

(maybe should have been closer to 'They gave them a skate park and that's not cool enough? Why do they do their thing in here?')

I am sure the vandals would have worse words for us than motley...

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And also without quotes, since you didn't even say it. :P

Maybe similar sentiments were expressed throughout the conversation, but if you did not say those exact words, he should not have used quotes.

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I first noticed the hole in the fence about 3 weeks ago. I was shocked to see it was still there. Surely the parks department knows about it but just lets it go. Thats the wrong message and basically says come on it,we don't care.....I noticed a group of people milling around the entrance, a few cameras in hand.. if someone gets hurt i guess then the city can decide if it's now an unsafe structure and should be taken down...

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I've been helping Johnny with this story. I know the kids who have gotten inside the towers NOT the ones who have done the graffiti (though they can't be far off). It's a damn shame there isn't enough security around the NYSP. Also the kids have broken the lock on the door to enter the tower itself. Also I believe that the skate park should be moved. Its all obvious that this has all been a result of the skaters.

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He's standing on the railing? Just brilliant.

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I will refrain from saying what is going through my head right now. Ugh.

Good news though - there were a couple of re-tweets (is that the proper term? ha) of the link for the Queens Chronicle article along with comments indicating that they are outraged by the vandalism.. nice to see.

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Don't worry I've been ranting to myself all night :P

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Dictionary.com defines a motley crew as a gathered group of people of various backgrounds, appearance, character, etc.

Could be worse! :)

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Posted · Report post

What a brilliant thing to do. He has more faith in those 50 year old cables than I do.

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When someone goes "splat", that will get the Parks Dept's attention. I hope it does not happen, but it sure seems to be a matter of time.

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When I read that account of the recent damage to what is left of the pavilion I was struck by yhe comment that new interior painting, in the spring, may deter future vandals. That's ridiculous. Nothing will deter a vandal. I have seen grafitti sprayed on the towers of the Triborough Bridge and the Unisphere. I remember when the arch in Washington Square in Greenwich Village was a spray painted mess. I am stunned by how absurd that idea really is. If new paint will deter a vandal then we should repaint the entire world and our vanadalism problems will be solved.

Secondly, the shot of the kid standing on that railing provides just about the same view that appeared in so many souvenir slides of the Fair and it is just about the spot where I snapped a photograph in 1965. I avoided the railing, however.

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Your world is their canvas, because their need for expression must not be inhibited. Art!

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Hey Mike, what is art when it destroys art. Maybe you should come down to the Pavillion and try out your painting skills.....Johnny

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Jim, The exterior of the pavilion has been hit once, only once on any new painted surface since the end of 2009. We painted over many graffiti coverups during the project. We remain hopeful this carries over to the interior.

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Like i said earlier, someone will get into trouble and either spend the nite as a broken or dead lump of stupidity in some corner until eventually found. If the 3 week hole in the gate is any indication of how attentive our park employees are to emergency repairs, the idiot better bring a toe tag for himself.

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Unfortunately the hole in the fence at the base of the towers goes back years. Its been repaired, covered, re-opened, re-closed, and moved but always in that general hidden area...

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Hey Mitch, I'm talking about the hole in the main gate to the Tent where I met you putting up the picture of the pavillion,where the cats are fed. It's hard to understand how any park employee could miss it.

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Oh, and Mike, if you can give me your address, I would love to express my art all over the walls of your home!!

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There was no hole in the main gate when we were there this past Monday but the hole remains at the tower base.

I believe Mike was being sarcastic btw...

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OK then,Mike,sorry to offend. The hole was on the right side of the main gate. Glad to see it was repaired.

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Who ever keeps getting into the Pavillion and there are many, Is very determined. We have seen a ladder on the outside of the Pavillion which they used to climb up to the mezzanine. Locks,chains, and chain link fence which are constantly being cut with bolt cutters, repaired and cut again.We have a few ideas we are kicking around which we hope will stop them from getting in.

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