Volume 81, Number 4 | June 23 - 29, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Art vendor will contest rules ‘daily’

By Albert Amateau

Robert Lederman went out to the High Line on Sunday morning June 12 to sell his art, including paintings of jazz musicians and photo/paint/paper collages of himself getting arrested.

He did not get arrested again, but he did get a summons for disobeying the new Department of Parks rules limiting where artists may sell their work in four Manhattan parks.

Lederman, president of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Resistance To Illegal State Tactics), has a large collection of summonses and plans to collect more.

Indeed a week earlier, on Sat., June 4, Lederman went to Union Square Park with his paintings and collages and refused to occupy one of the 18 locations marked by a small medallion in the pavement set aside for venders of “expressive matter” protected by the First Amendment.

He had a discussion, which he recorded on video, with the Union Square Park supervisor, but he didn’t get a summons at that time.

“I intend to challenge the rules on a daily basis,” he said on Tues., June 21.

Lederman is a plaintiff in a pending federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the rules that the city says are needed to bring order to artists’ vending in Union Square Park, the High Line park, Battery Park and Central Park near the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Columbus Circle.

Artist vendors contend that limits to where they may sell in those parks violate the First Amendment. They also say the city does not enforce rules against unlicensed vendors of merchandise not protected by the First Amendment.

Lederman has long been a thorn in the city’s side regarding sale of expressive matter on the streets and in the parks. He has won seven such lawsuits against the city, including one affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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