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.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Judge Dismisses Park Artists Case; Artists Vow to Appeal

The Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Court House at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan.

In a setback to artists and sellers of books and other "expressive matter" in New York City's public parks, Federal Judge Richard J. Sullivan of the Southern District of New York has upheld revised Parks Department rules created in 2010 that limit the space available for the vending of materials protected by the first amendment. Judge Sullivan awarded summary judgement to the city in Lederman v. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, 10 Civ. 4800, dismissing artists' claims that the rules were a pretext for driving artists out of the parks.

Vowing to appeal the case to the Second Circuit of the United States Appeals Court, Robert Lederman, one of the plaintiff's in the artist's suit, stated, “We disagree with the ruling in every detail and expect that the appeals court will reverse the decision.”

Judge Sullivan's decision is not entirely surprising. In July of 2010 he denied the artists a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of the revised park rules, stating that the rules did not appear to violate the first amendment and that the artists were unlikely to prevail on the merits of their claims. In addition, at an earlier "Show Cause Hearing" on July 8, 2010, Judge Sullivan, while questioning lawyers for both sides, seemed to indicate that he believed it wasn’t his job to interfere in the city’s management of park rules if ultimately they had a right to regulate the time, place and manner of vending of the "expressive matter vendors" selling first amendment materials. In Monday's ruling, Judge Sullivan appears to have accepted at face value the Parks Department assertions that the artists had "ample other avenues to sell their wares."

However, the ruling does seem to leave the door open for the artists to appeal on a variety of issues. What issues the artists and their lawyers choose to include in their appeal remains to be seen.

The full decision is available here:

More on the ruling:, Tue, October 02, 2012
NYC Art Activists Must Find New Vending Turf
By Courthouse News

Monday, June 18, 2012

Saturday in the Park

Artists Peter Walsh and Xiang Yue Chuan enjoying the show on a beautiful day in the park. Photo by Tim Murray.

The Central Park Portrait Exchange was shown in its entirety for the first time this Saturday, June 16, 2012 on a gloriously beautiful early summer day in Manhattan’s Central Park. Artists, well-wishers, tourists and park visitors came out to see the work and discuss the project. The 15 sets of drawings were set up in a portable exhibit under a majestic oak tree in the same small plaza where many of the drawings had been completed. The Parks Department police, also known as PEP officers (Parks Enforcement Patrol), did not hinder the exhibition in any way.

Many of the participating Portrait Exchange artists were in the park Saturday including Xiang Yue Chuan, Dario Zapata, Artashes Karslian, Wei Chen, Jorge Rivera, Peter Walsh and Sharif Sadiq and those that could easily take a break from their work dropped by to see the display.

Special thanks go out to all the artists working in the park and to Tim Murray who shot video and still photography. Below is small slideshow of snapshots from the day. More photos are on the way soon and a short documentary of the day should be available later this summer.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Central Park Portrait Exchange Exhibition! Saturday, June 16, 10am-2pm

Finally! All 15 sets of original drawings made as part of the Central Park Portrait Exchange will be exhibited for one day only on Saturday, June 16 from 10am till 2pm - on site in the southeast corner of Central Park, 60th Street at Grand Army Plaza.

Participating artists include Amon Azizov, Wei Chen, Qiao Fu, Gao Min, 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 and Zhuang Xuemin.

Click here for the Facebook event page.
See the map below, or click here for a map.

"The drawings will go up in a great shaded spot just a few yards from where many of the Central Park portrait artists - like Xiang Yue Chuan and Dario Zapata - set up and work every day," says organizer Peter Walsh. "But why is space available? Because the new park rules have made this perfect location 'illegal' for artists." The one day "pop-up" exhibition can set up only because the portrait exchange drawings will be marked "For Display Only, Not For Sale."

Artists have sued the Parks Department in federal and state court. Oral arguments on the City’s motion for summary judgment in the federal lawsuit will be heard by judge Richard J. Sullivan on Thursday, June 28 at 2:30pm at the Federal Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan.

View Central Park Portrait Exchange Exhibition in a larger map

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Portrait Exchange Exhibition on the Way!


The thirty original drawings from the Central Park Portrait Exchange will be shown soon in a one day pop-up exhibition in Manhattan’s Central Park. The portable display is designed to emerge from a milk crate on wheels and unfold into an elegant display that gives park visitors – and the participating artists themselves – a chance to finally see all fifteen pairs of portrait exchanges simultaneously.

Built by project organizer and artist Peter Walsh, the “exhibition-in-a-box” will set up directly across the street from Grand Army Plaza’s Sherman monument in the southeast corner of Central Park on a spot that has recently become “off-limits” to artist vendors because of controversial new park rules instituted in 2010. Those rules have sparked several artist lawsuits against the city in both state and federal courts. Those new rules do not apply to the upcoming display of the Central Park Portrait Exchange since they explicitly impact only “expressive matter vendors” selling art in New York City parks and do not apply to artists who, as Federal Judge Richard J. Sullivan said at a court hearing in July of 2010, wish to participate in the “marketplace of ideas” by just displaying art.

Says Walsh: “This is an opportunity for a group of artists to reoccupy a part of the commons that is increasingly under attack from well-heeled interlopers who seek to reduce the varied ways in which a public park can be used by ordinary people. I can’t wait to talk to people in the park and see how they respond to the drawings. Showing art in an open public place creates incredible dialogues that go beyond what is shared in the cloistered space of galleries and museums.”

The date for the one-day show will be announced soon. For details of the ongoing construction of the exhibition, see the photo slideshow below.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Federal Judge to Review New Materials in Artists’ Suit

Following hard on the heels of revelations that New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation is no longer holding musicians and performers accountable to the same rules that apply to visual artists, Federal Judge Richard Sullivan has granted artists permission to file new materials in their ongoing lawsuit against the Parks Department.

In a May 14, 2012 letter to Judge Sullivan requesting permission to file the new materials, the artists’ attorney Julie Milner claimed that the City’s new position on buskers and entertainers was directly at odds with papers filed in federal court by the city. According to Milner, “this raises an issue of material fact of whether artists are targeted for enforcement not equally applied to similarly situated individuals.” The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that laws be enforced consistently for individuals in similar circumstances.

Reached for comment yesterday by Village Voice reporter Victoria Bekiempis, the City’s attorney Sheryl Neufeld stated "The plaintiffs are just engaging in wishful thinking. There is nothing in today's order that supports their belief that the judge has given their contentions credence."‬

In a May 14, 2012 email, Robert Lederman, an artist plaintiff in the federal case and president of the street artists organization A.R.T.I.S.T., described the City’s new take on park rules enforcement as “explosive” and “a complete reversal of the City’s previous legal position.”

Judge Sullivan has scheduled oral arguments on the City’s motion for summary judgment for Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 2:30p.m. at the Federal Courthouse at 500 Pearl Street.

See also:

Judge Sullivan’s Order:

Artists’ Letter to Judge Sullivan:

“Federal Judge To Decide if Artists Can Play in The Park”
Village Voice, Victoria Bekiempis, Tuesday, May 15 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Parks’ Decision to Allow Performers in Park Could Aid Artists’ Suit

The New York City Parks Department has reversed course on its policy of holding entertainers and musicians performing in city parks accountable to the same restrictive rules and regulations affecting visual artists.

In an article on the Washington Square Park Blog, Parks Spokesperson Phil Abramson announced that “Busking and entertainers are not subject to the expressive matter vending rule,” adding, “They must still abide by other park rules though such as they cannot block benches or paths, play with amplified sound, etc.” The victory for park goers and performers could aid visual artists in their ongoing suit in federal court against new expressive matter vending rules promulgated by the Parks Department beginning in 2010.

According to an article published by email on May 11, 2012 by Robert Lederman, president of the street artists’ organization A.R.T.I.S.T and a plaintiff in the visual artists suit, “The Parks Dept is now violating their entire rule revision by reversing the legal position they stated throughout the Federal lawsuit (that the rules were equally enforced against musicians and performers as well as visual artists).”

Why does the policy reversal matter?

As defendants in the lawsuit, the Parks Department needs to show that they are not targeting particular classes of people or selectively enforcing the new parks rules on vending. If they allow performers to operate in park spaces outside of the same rules that they enforce against visual artists, they will likely be in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. That clause states "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

More info:

"City Backs Down On Artists & Musicians In Washington Square Park"
A Walk in the Park, May 14, 2012, by Geoffrey Croft

"City Reverses Course on Performance Crackdown at Washington Square Park – No More Ticketing and Fining of “Entertainers and Buskers”"
Washington Square Park Blog, May 11, 2012