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, June 30, 2011

Ai Wei Wei Confirmed as Central Park Portrait Artist

Chinese artist and dissident Ai Wei Wei was confirmed today by the New York Times as having been a portrait artist in Central Park during his sojourn in New York City in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the same moment, New York City officials continue to crackdown on artists working in Central Park, directly across the street from where New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself unveiled Ai Wei Wei’s "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads".

In an article from 1991 about the death of portrait artist Lin Lin in Times Square, Times reporter Richard Bernstein, who identifies Ai Wei Wei as "a painter and sculptor who was one of the first young Chinese artists to come to this country" says "A typical day might include several hours in the afternoon drawing portraits in Central Park, Mr. Ai said. Then, a portrait artist might travel down to 34th Street to work for a few hours in the early evening outside Macy's. Later at night, he might venture over to Times Square, where, despite the dangers of the neighborhood, there are often many prospective customers late into the night."

Today's article on Ai's New York City photos at the Asia Society states "Mr. Ai worked as a street artist while he lived in New York, charging $15 to $25 for a portrait in Times Square." As usual, the Times, which has consistently taken the city's side in the current dispute between artists and the Parks Department, avoids stating that Ai worked in the parks, even though their own archive confirms it.

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