Current artists: Amon Azizov, Wei Chen, Qiao Fu, Gao Min, Guo Kun Sheug, Artashes Karslian, Ji Yin Jin, Li Qun, Lin Ruo, Dean Lu, Ren Jien-Guo, Jorge Rivera, Sharif Sadiq, Peter Walsh, Xiang Yue Chuan, Dario Zapata, Zhuang Xuemin

Organized by Peter Walsh, Ongoing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hearing on Injunction Against New Park Rules Ends; Justice Tingling to Rule Soon

Artists' lawyer Jon Schuyler Brooks questioning artist Gao Min in court on Monday, September 20, 2010. Sketch: P. Walsh
Two more days of artists’ testimony were heard in New York State Supreme Court Justice Milton A. Tingling, Jr.’s courtroom at 60 Centre Street in Manhattan this week, completing the hearing on a possible Preliminary Injunction against the New York City Parks Department’s new rules restricting artists’ ability to show and sell art in four city parks. Justice Tingling continued the standing Temporary Restraining Order pending his decision and indicated that he will rule on the injunction by next week.
On Monday, September 20, 2010 artists Diane Dua and Gao Min testified. Dua, a plaintiff in the case who has traditionally worked near the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park, showed photographs and stated that she was unable to compete for the reduced number of spaces that the new rules had created. Lines for those spots begin forming in the middle of the night and married couples who work as a team have a distinct advantage. Sheryl Neufeld, an attorney for the New York City Law Department’s Administrative Law Division, asked why Dua didn’t simply move to another location. Dua explained that her loaded pushcart of photographs weighed hundreds of pounds and that it was difficult for her, as a petite woman, to move that cart from location to location, not knowing in advance where a space might be.
Artist Gao Min, speaking with the aid of a Mandarin translator, confirmed that he had shot a series of dramatic videos of the scramble to reserve spaces on Wien Walk. Those video clips were shown to Justice Tingling and the courtroom. Click here to see some of that video. This was the second piece of video evidence depicting about the situation at Wien Walk. Click here to see the first video.
On Wednesday, September 22, 2010, artists Bayo Iribhogbe, Tenzin Wangdu, Miriam West and George Moran also testified for the plaintiffs.
At the end of testimony on Wednesday, Justice Tingling continued the standing Temporary Restraining Order pending his decision and indicated that he will rule on the injunction by next week.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Assistant Commish Linn Grilled on the Stand In Artists' Hearing

New York City Parks Department Assistant Commissioner Jack Linn gave unexpected testimony today in Justice Milton A. Tingling, Jr.’s courtroom while under a vigorous cross-examination by artist plaintiffs’ attorney Jon Schuyler Brooks. That testimony is potentially favorable for the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the revised park rules limiting artists’ ability to display and sell art in four New York City Parks.

Linn first testified on a large series of photos that he contended showed evidence of artists causing congestion in the parks and reducing the aesthetic experience of being in park space. He noted that Central Park is considered an artwork in its own right and that there are many permanent and temporary artworks and sculptures in the parks. He appeared to claim that artists working in the parks reduced the ability of the public to enjoy these large-scale artworks sited in the parks.

During voir dire for entering the photos as evidence and during cross-examination, Linn admitted that he had directed park staff to shoot particular photos but had only brought a small portion of those photos to court. Judge Tingling asked the city to give the artists’ attorneys access to the other photos. Linn suggested that what he had done was no different than what artists had done with testimony and videos during Monday’s hearing, but Brooks countered that Linn was attempting to claim his photos represented a general situation in the parks while the artists were presenting particular facts of specific moments. At one point Linn suggested that video shown in court on Monday (such as the video taken on Wien Walk by artist Peter Walsh) was staged. That comment was stuck from the record.

Linn was also grilled on the details of the revised park rules after he testified that he had a significant hand in drafting the rules. At one point he was given a copy of the rules while he searched in vain for an explanation of the process park officers should use in several situations that might arise implementing the first come first serve system.

Also of note, when pushed during questioning, Linn admitted that he did not know of any documented complaints against artist vendors by members of the public. This is in direct contradiction to the city’s published revised rules, which state that such complaints were the impetus for drafting the new rules.
The hearing continues on Monday, September 20th at 2pm at Judge Tingling’s courtroom at 60 Centre Street, Room 321.

(Image: Justice Milton A. Tingling, Jr. in court today. Drawing by Peter Walsh)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Artists Peter Walsh and Joel Kaye Testify, Hearing to Continue Wednesday

"It smells like a license, it walks like a license, it talks like a license," said plaintiffs' attorney Jon Schuyler Brooks as he described the Park Department's new medallion scheme today in Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr.'s courtroom at 60 Centre Street in Manhattan. New York City laws and multiple court rulings forbid the city from imposing a licensing system on artists working in city parks.

Brooks and fellow Phillips Nizer attorneys Kevin B. McGrath and Jeffrey L. Shore presented arguments in favor of converting the standing Temporary Restraining Order against the Revised Park Rules restricting artists' ability to show and sell art in NYC parks into a Preliminary Injunction that would be in effect pending a final court ruling. The city's attorneys argued against the TRO and the Injunction saying that the revised rules were "reasonable time, place and manner restrictions." Attorney Brooks countered that since the rules only place restrictions on the number of artists who can work in the park, that they aren't in fact time, place or manner restrictions at all.

Artist Peter Walsh testified first confirming that he had shot video of artists being forced to race for authorized spots in Central Park. The video was then shown to Justice Tingling and the courtroom.

Artist Joel Kaye then testified about several videos that he had shot at Union Square Park including footage explicitly showing that the city's "authorized spaces" place artists dangerously close to speeding cars and buses, that Greenmarket trucks cause far more congestion than artists, and that there are large open spaces in Union Square Park at even the busiest of times.

The hearing will continue this Wednesday, September 15 at 2pm at the New York County Supreme Court building at 60 Center Street, Room 321 in Manhattan.

(Image: The New York County Supreme Court building at 60 Centre Street in Manhattan. Photo by Peter Walsh.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

State Judge to Hear Artists' Testimony this Monday, September 13th

Justice Milton A. Tingling, Jr. of the New York State Supreme Court will hold a hearing this Monday, September 13th at 2pm at 60 Center Street, Room 321 on the current Temporary Restraining Order blocking the enforcement of new park rules. Those rules restrict the ability of artists to work in New York City public parks. The hearing could result in a Preliminary Injunction that would block enforcement of the rules pending a final decision in the case filed against the city by artists Diane Dua, Joel Kaye, Artists United and others. That final decision may be many months away.
The artist plaintiffs are represented by Phillips Nizer lawyers Kevin B. McGrath, Jeffrey L. Shore and Jon Schuyler Brooks who will be calling witnesses to give evidence on the artists’ behalf. Artist Peter Walsh is scheduled to testify confirming that he shot video on Wien Walk documenting the degrading regulations created by the new park rules that force artists to race to designated artist locations at 6am every morning.