Fun_People Archive
29 Jan
Art World Luminaries Join Street Artists In Federal Lawsuit

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 96 14:41:05 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: Art World Luminaries Join Street Artists In Federal Lawsuit

[What have they done to the old home place?  -psl]

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For immediate release: Monday 1/22/96

Art World Luminaries Join Street Artists In Federal Lawsuit

Today the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, and The Metropolitan
Museum of Art will join artists, critics, art dealers and the ACLU in
appealling a controversial Federal Court ruling. Lederman v. City of New
York 94 Civ. 7216 (MGC) charges New York City with violating street artists'
First Amendment rights. Also included among the amicus briefs filed today
as part of the appeal in support of five members of A.R.T.I.S.T.  (Artists'
Response To Illegal State Tactics) are those from artists Claes Oldenburg,
Jenny Holzer, Chuck Close and David Hammons; art critics Irving Sandler and
Simon Schama; the New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York City Arts
Coalition, the College Art Association; SoHo art dealer Ron Feldman and the
A.C.L.U. and N.Y.C.L.U. The highly respected artists, art experts and
institutions joined in condemning Federal Judge Miriam Cedarbaum's
controversial decision that visual art without words or a political message
is not protected by the First Amendment. Based on the judge's ruling, issued
on 10/24/95 in United States District Court, Southern District, N.Y., the
City has renewed its controversial policy of arresting artists.

According to A.R.T.I.S.T. president Robert Lederman, the pattern of arrests,
confiscations and dismissals is part of an illegal and misguided "quality
of life" policy aimed at intimidating artists into giving up displaying and
selling their original art on N.Y.C. streets. Artists are repeatedly
handcuffed and arrested. Their original paintings, photographs and prints
are confiscated. Once arrested, the artists are charged with not having a
vending license; the same license the City admits in its legal brief is
impossible to obtain, or even apply for. While the City has made hundreds
of arrests, and continues to make them on a daily basis, none of the artists
have been brought to trial in Criminal Court or convicted of a crime. Every
case is eventually dismissed.  The confiscated art is sold at a monthly
Police Department forfeiture auction or destroyed, often before the cases
are dismissed in court.  Since 1982 New York City's vending ordinance has
specifically exempted other constitutionally protected forms of expression
such as books, magazines and baseball cards, from the licensing requirement,
based on the First Amendment.

In a related action today, three A.R.T.I.S.T. members, Lei Chang, Joe Costin
and Robert Lederman will be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court's DAT
section (100 Centre Street, 9:30 A.M.) and may become the first artists the
City attempts to prosecute under Judge Cedarbaum's ruling. Attorney and SoHo
art dealer Marc Agnifilo is expected to represent the three artists at the

                    for more information contact: A.R.T.I.S.T.
       (Artists' Response To Illegal State Tactics) (718) 369-2111
    E-mail or visit the A.R.T.I.S.T. web site at:
Contents include Judge Cedarbaum's entire ruling; contact numbers for all
City officials involved in this issue; legal precedents in other First
Amendment cases and other research materials for covering this story.

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