Letters to the editor

Zone defense

To The Editor:

Re “No confusion here” (letter, by Robert Lederman, Aug. 16):

Robert Lederman has made a career out of confusing artists and using them as a smoke screen to advocate for his real contingent — illegal vendors and art bootleggers. The facts are that whenever artists strike out on their own to use their First Amendment rights to speak their own minds, this “First Amendment advocate” attacks them, insults them and lies about their motives. His letter to the editor, “Clear picture,” is a perfect example.

Attorney Eugene Nathanson states in his 2005 letter to the New York City Council that the San Francisco art-zone system is to be seen as a template not a model. The fact is that San Francisco took a good idea and screwed it up.

Their application of this idea is way too restrictive for a true First Amendment art zone and that is clear. However just because they did it wrong does not mean that New York City cannot do it right.

The idea we were promoting at the time would have allowed artists to display in art zones, including the full length of West Broadway in Soho, at the Metropolitan Museum, MoMA, Central Park, Harlem and the southern tip of Manhattan, as well as areas in Brooklyn and Queens. In our model, these art zones would be safe areas in which artists could display their own original work, and legitimate First Amendment vendors could legally sell artwork for which they held the copyright. Artists would not be restricted to showing only in these areas, but here they would not be confused with the legion of illegal vendors that sell stolen and bootleg art all over the city.

Mr. Lederman continually refers to “permits” as a way to spread fear of any plan that would allow artists to distinguish themselves from the horde of bootleggers and illegal vendors. However, I have stood strongly against permits of any sort, and continue to do so to this day. The system I have advocated (and have mentioned many times in my letters to this newspaper) requires only the artist’s signature on the artwork or other proof of copyright, his or her own driver’s license — or passport ID — and tax ID (every artist must carry one while selling in public). Mr. Lederman knows this is where I stand and it is one thing that puts fear into his heart. He is fully aware that if this plan were to be put into place, his group of bootleggers and illegal art marketers would soon be out of business, and artists would be truly free to express themselves in public throughout New York City.

Mr. Lederman is not confused. He confuses others. That is his job and he works overtime to make sure artists remain under his control and that illegal vending flourishes at their expense.

Lawrence White

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