City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

3:00 p.m.

25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70, San Francisco, California

Explanatory documents are available for public inspection and copying at the Arts Commission office, 25 Van Ness Ave, Suite 60, San Francisco, CA 94102 during regular business hours. Tel: 415-252-2581.


Commissioners Present: Dugald Stermer, Andrew Brother Elk, Rod Freebairn-Smith

Commissioners Absent: Kirk Anderson, Denise Roth


Staff Present: Richard Newirth, Director of Cultural Affairs; Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Director; Antoinette Worthy, Certification Clerk


In attendance were attorney Robert Pimm and street artists David Campos, Dennis Dooley, Eberardo Hernandez, and Edward Steneck.

Commissioner Stermer, Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:07 p.m.


    Program Director Lazar, conveying a request by street artists Robert and William Clark, asked that a certain correction be made to the Committee's minutes of October 9, 2002.
    Commissioner Brother Elk moved that page 13, line 29, of the Street Artists Committee's minutes of October 9, 2002 be corrected by replacing the phrase "to give the name of any person who offered to help her with the lottery" with the phrase "to give the name of any person who asked her for a duplicate blue slip", the full statement to read as follows: "Mr. Robert Clark, through the chair, asked Ms. Havet to give the name of any person who asked her for a duplicate blue slip." The motion was seconded by Commissioner Freebairn-Smith and unanimously approved.

    Sonia Davis - Certificate # 4945.
    Alleged violation: Selling items not of the artist's own creation (commercially manufactured fabricated metal jewelry).
    Program Director Lazar reported that the Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Craftsmen Examiners conducted a studio visit with regard to certain jewelry items on Ms. Davis's display as photographed by the Program Director. The purpose of the studio visit was to verify whether the items were created by Ms. Davis. In making its findings, the Advisory Committee, based on the evidence presented, could not verify that the items in question were of the artist's own creation.
    The Commissioners examined the photos of Ms. Davis's display and reviewed the notes of the Advisory Committee which reflected that (a) Ms. Davis showed no receipts describing the copper wire which was used in the rings shown in the photos, (b) the receipts did not indicate the type of wire, (c) the receipts were no older than April, 2001, (d) the bracelet which Ms. Davis showed was not the same (in workmanship and refinement) as the refined silver and stone bracelets on her display, (e) the necklace which Ms. Davis showed did not match those on her display, (f) Ms. Davis did not present a sufficient amount of finished and unfinished samples of her jewelry nor furnish the required items as requested in a letter to her by the Program Director, (g) Ms. Davis did not demonstrate making the items in question, and (h) the Advisory Committee did "not feel confident that she makes all" of the items on her display and was "not convinced that the items in question are made by" Ms. Davis.
    Mr. Lazar stated that, prior to the studio visit, Ms. Davis honored an agreement she made with the Arts Commission to discontinue selling the questionable items until examined by the Advisory Committee.
    Mr. Robert Pimm, attorney representing Ms. Davis in her absence, stated that some of the problems his client had in providing receipts at her studio visit were due to her no longer having many of the receipts, tools, and materials. Nevertheless, he said, Ms. Davis accepted fully that she failed to submit the questionable items to examination prior to selling them, and she now understood that she is required to submit for a screening any new item which she wishes to sell; therefore, she wanted the commissioners to know that this problem will not arise again. Mr. Pimm added that his client wished to waive her right to appeal to the Board of Appeals in order to have her suspension commence as soon as possible.
    In response to a question by Commissioner Stermer, Program Director Lazar recommended that Ms. Davis serve the standard penalty of a 2-month suspension of her certificate and that the suspension be not deferred to summer or any other significant selling season because Ms. Davis had honored her agreement to remove the questionable items.
    Commissioner Brother Elk moved confirmation of the findings of the Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Craftsmen Examiners and that Sonia Davis be found in violation for selling items not of her own creation; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Freebairn-Smith and unanimously approved.
    In response to a question by Commissioner Brother Elk, Mr. Pimm stated that his client understood that everything for display on her table has to be made by her and has to have prescreened, and that this was for her own protection against accusations by other artists.
    Commissioner Brother Elk moved that Ms. Davis's certificate be suspended for a period of two months commencing February 20; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Freebairn-Smith.
    Street Artist Edward Steneck asked the commissioners to consider mitigating the suspension period because of the current poor economic climate.
    Program Director Lazar urged, in deference to the artists who make everything they sell and also have to endure the current economic climate, that the suspension not be mitigated.
    Commissioner Brother Elk noted that the proposed suspension was a standard penalty, and that the case was not one of extraordinary circumstances which would warrant mitigation of the penalty.
    Commissioner Stermer stated that the appropriateness of the standard penalty for this case was in the best interest of the Program.
    The motion was unanimously approved.
    Dennis Gonzales - Certificate #2338 (expired October 29, 2002). Alleged violation: Conducting business in a disorderly, improper, hazardous manner; assaulting Street Artist Eberardo Hernandez.
    Program Director Lazar clarified that, by its nature, the alleged violation was considered by the Arts Commission to be a "serious violation". In wording provided by the City Attorney, the "NOTICE TO STREET ARTISTS" issued December 10, 1996 states that "serious violations" committed by street artists include "violations of a violent or threatening nature and violations that significantly threaten integrity of the Street Artists Program." Such violations result in a withholding of the artist's certificate by the Director of Cultural Affairs pending hearing by the Street Artists Committee. In this case, Mr. Gonzales's certificate was withheld and it ultimately expired. The hearing was to determine whether it should be renewed or a new certificate issued should Mr. Gonzales so request this.
    Mr. Gonzales was not present.
    Street Artist Eberardo Hernandez described the incident. Despite Mr. Gonzales owing him money, Mr. Hernandez and he had peacefully coexisted until September 29, 2002. On that day Gonzales made derogatory comments to him as Hernandez passed by his booth on Beach Street; Hernandez responded with a finger gesture (which, he said, was wrong of him to do so); Gonzales pursued him to his selling location on the same street; Hernandez turned around and received a blow on his face by Gonzales which broke his skin and caused his eyeglasses to fall. Street artist David Campos stepped in between them. Gonzales invited Hernandez to continue the fight. Hernandez called the police; an officer came and cited both of them as citizen arrests summonsing both to court. Later that day, one of the street artist Clark brothers videotaped Gonzales stating that he was sorry, that he should not have done what he had done; this, however, was not an apology made directly to Hernandez.
    Street Artist David Campos told the commissioners that, at the time of the incident, he was one space away from Mr. Hernandez's. His back was to him; when he heard the commotion, he turned and saw Hernandez picking himself up (although he did not think he had fallen to the ground). Hernandez and Gonzales pushed each other, and Mr. Campos stepped in between them.
    The commissioners reviewed Mr. Hernandez's written report to the Program Director received the day after the incident. The commissioners also reviewed the written statements submitted by Mr. Gonzales in the weeks following the incident: the statements maintained that Hernandez put his hands on him and that Gonzales hit him in self-defense.
    Mr. Hernandez denied this.
    Street Artist Dennis Dooley described an incident involving himself and Mr. Gonzales seven years ago which, he, Dooley, regretted not reporting at the time. Prior to the incident, Gonzales had been hawking customers, a practice frowned upon by the street artists; when Dooley asked him to stop hawking, Gonzales got angry; in the end, both agreed not to sell next to each other. Several months later, Gonzales moved into a vacated space next to Dooley. When Dooley reminded him of their "gentleman's agreement", Gonzales punched him in the chest. Street Artist Kris Pokorny stepped in between them. Gonzales packed up and left. Pokorny urged Dooley to report the incident, but Dooley did not. The next morning Gonzales apologized to him but told him that he really felt Dooley should have defended himself with his arms. Dooley was relating the incident now because he felt it was an opportune time.
    Commissioner Stermer commented that he has an office near the Delancey Street Foundation whose policy is that if an individual even threatens violence, the individual is thrown out of the organization without appeal. The Commissioner stated that he felt very strongly about the issue of Mr. Gonzales's behavior, especially after hearing of the previous incident, and was not inclined to let him back into the Program.
    Commissioner Brother Elk commented that it bothered him that Mr. Gonzales was not present to address such a serious charge against him. He added that he felt any assault was grounds for not renewing a certificate.
    Program Director Lazar clarified that Mr. Gonzales, who lives in New Mexico, was mailed a notice of the hearing two months in advance.
    In response to a question by Commissioner Stermer as to the frequency of physical violence in the Street Artists Program, the Program Director stated that, to the best of his memory, the last incident of physical violence occurred nearly twenty years before, which resulted in certificate revocation.
    Commissioner Stermer commented that, despite all the emotions prevalent in the Program, the street artists have handled themselves with decorum and grace, and he did not want to see the present case dismissed lightly. He wanted the other artists to know that the Commission would protect them.
    Commissioner Brother Elk moved that Dennis Gonzales be found in violation for conducting business in a disorderly, improper, hazardous manner by assaulting a street artist; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Freebairn-Smith.
    Commissioner Freebairn-Smith moved that issuance or renewal of certificate for Mr. Gonzales be disapproved; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Brother Elk and unanimously approved.
    There being no new business to consider, Commissioner Stermer adjourned the meeting at 3:50 p.m.
    Respectfully submitted:
    Howard Lazar
    Street Artists Program Director

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February 14, 2003