September 8, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
Members present: Greg Chew, Chair, John Calloway, Amy Chuang, Jessica Silverman
Members absent: Sherene Melania
Staff present: Director of Cultural Affairs Luis R. Cancel, Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Assistant Alyssa Licouris
Commissioner Chew, Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:02 p.m.
The Commissioners expressed thanks for Commissioner Melania’s service as previous chair of the Committee.
1. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve issuance of certificate or renewal of certificate.
Jian Liang Zhao – Certificate #7298. “Notice of Withholding of Certificate or Renewal Pending Hearing” issued to Mr. Zhao for the following alleged violations of the Street Artists Ordinance (Ord. 41-83): (1) Conducting business in an improper manner (soliciting business away from other street artists), 9/6 and 12/23/09; (2) Failing to maintain a pedestrian passageway of 8 feet, 7/27/10; (3) Conducting business in an improper manner (overcharging a customer), 7/28/10.
Program Director Lazar introduced the first alleged violation against Mr. Zhao. Street Artist Lian Guang Yuan was called to speak in front of the Commissioners about his complaint. His translator, Mr. Tom Tam, read Mr. Yuan’s letter of complaint aloud. The letter described Mr. Zhao denigrating Mr. Yuan’s artwork to Mr. Yuan’s customer and took the customer away from him. Mr. Yuan verified that the letter was true and spoke about another complaint where Mr. Zhao crumpled up a drawing at a customer after they would not buy the drawing.
Street Artist Dick Knoble was involved in the incident of Mr. Yuan and was called to speak in front of the Commissioners. Mr. Knoble verified that his space was between Mr. Yuan’s and Mr. Zhao’s spaces. Mr. Knoble saw Mr. Zhao make a thumbs down gesture behind Mr. Yuan while Mr. Yuan was drawing a portrait of his customer.
Mr. Lazar introduced the second alleged violation against Mr. Zhao. The artist who complained was not present but Mr. Lazar presented the photographic evidence that showed Mr. Zhao in the pedestrian passageway. Street Artist Sandra Alexander stated she had seen Mr. Zhao in the pedestrian passageway numerous times.
Mr. Lazar introduced the third alleged violation against Mr. Zhao. Ms. Sandra Alexander was called to speak in front of the Commissioners about her complaint. Although she did not witness the event, she spoke to police officers afterwards about how Mr. Zhao overcharged customers. The police officers made Mr. Zhao return the money to the customers. Ms. Alexander believed the amount was around $50.
Mr. Zhao was called to speak about these alleged violations with the help of translator, Amanda Chen provided by the Street Artists Program. Mr Zhao stated he had never harassed the first plaintiff in his booth, and that many customers go to Mr. Yuan’s booth and then come to Mr. Zhao and ask if it is a good drawing or not. Mr. Zhao only gives his opinion. According to Mr. Zhao, Mr. Yuan will come to his booth and make the same gestures so it is only fair for Mr. Zhao to do the same gestures back.
Regarding the second alleged violation, Mr. Zhao was very apologetic that his booth was in the pedestrian walkway. Mr. Zhao said that sometimes he forgets about his surroundings when he draws and can be easily distracted by his work. Mr. Zhao promised it would not happen again.
Regarding the third alleged violation, Mr. Zhao showed the Commissioners his price list which stated $25 for a portrait. For two people, it would be $50 for two portraits. Mr. Zhao said that there were two customers who asked for a portrait and when Mr. Zhao was finished, they only had $13. Street Artist Chao Ju Chang was a witness for Mr. Zhao. Mr. Chang said Mr. Zhao only took $13 from the customer but then the woman of the couple called the police officer and ordered Mr. Zhao to give the money back. The woman said they didn’t understand that they had to pay for a portrait. Mr. Zhao kept the portrait and gave back the money to the couple. Mr. Zhao said it took 45 minutes to complete the portrait.
Commissioner Calloway asked if the Street Artists Program had a code of ethics. On page 59 of the Street Artist Blue Book in the chapter titled “Occupying a Space”, there is a section called “Correct Behavior While Occupying a Space: Some Recommendations.” Recommendation #21 stated “Respect the business of your fellow street artists. Do not enter their spaces without permission. Do not get in the way of their customers. Do not distract their customers by making loud noises or by using offensive language. (If you have visitors at your display who behave in this way, you may be held responsible for conducting business in a disorderly or improper manner”.) Do not allow your customers to block or interfere with the displays of your neighboring artists.”
Commissioner Chew stated that he is disheartened that there are so many complaints about Mr. Zhao.
Commissioner Chuang stated that alleged violation #1 and #2 have enough support but #3 does not have conclusive evidence.
Both Commissioners Chew and Silverman agreed that the photo from alleged violation #2 does not completely give enough evidence but there are so many complaints against Mr. Zhao that something needs to be done.
Mr. Lazar noted that he as a hearing officer conducted a hearing with Mr. Zhao in 2008 where Mr. Zhao signed a statement which agreed that he would not break any more street artists rules. Mr. Lazar also noted for Commissioners to focus on the three alleged violations and not any additional violations which were brought up at the meeting.
Commissioner Calloway moved that Mr. Zhao be found in violation for conducting business in an improper manner by soliciting business away from other street artists; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Silverman; and unanimously approved.
Commissioner Calloway moved to approve issuance of certificate or renewal of certificate for Mr. Jian Liang Zhao with a 30 day suspension; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Silverman, and unanimously approved.
2. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve issuance of certificate or renewal of certificate.
Steven Goldberg – Certificate #5142. “Notice of Withholding of Certificate or Renewal Pending Hearing” issued to Mr. Goldberg for the following alleged violations: Conducting business in an improper, hazardous manner (1) Sexual harassment of a street artist; (2) Threatening a street artist; (3) Interfering with lottery space-assignment procedures, 7/30 and 8/10/10.
Street Artist Steven Goldberg was called to speak in front of the Commissioners. He stated that he received his Notice of Withholding letter on August 16, 2010. He requested copies of the audio recording of the incident and did not receive them until Tuesday, September 7, 2010. He stated that the recordings were supposed to be over 10 minutes long and were both 2 minutes each. Mr. Goldberg has requested an opportunity to defend himself and would like to reschedule this matter to the November Street Artists Committee meeting so he has adequate time to prepare.
Commissioner Chew asked if this is a criminal or civil infraction and what type of authority the Arts Commission has over this matter. Mr. Lazar stated that the case was under the Administrative Code and is under the Arts Commission’s purview. Mr. Chew stated that the Street Artists Committee believes this is a serious matter and that the Committee needs more time to address this issue. Mr. Chew agreed that it should be continued to November 10, 2010. Mr. Lazar stated the problem that Mr. Goldberg’s license would expire on September 11, 2010.
Commissioner Chew moved to continue the item to the next regularly scheduled Street Artists Committee meeting and to approve the renewal of Mr. Goldberg’s license; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Silverman.
Commissioner Chew called for public comment relating to this matter.
Street Artist Michael Addario suggested that the artist who filed the complaint should speak.
Street Artist Amanda Nordquist, who filed the complaint about Mr. Goldberg stated that full recordings of the incidents were on Ms. Sarah Huntoon’s iphone but, after many difficulties trying to get the files onto the computer, they decided to cut the recordings and bring those edited versions because they did not want to waste any more time. Ms. Nordquist noted that the serious issues in the excerpts of the files were present in the version given to the Street Artists Program office which, she stated, portrays Mr. Goldberg’s irrational behavior. Ms. Nordquist briefly described a few details of her complaint including language Mr. Goldberg has used against her, Ms. Sarah Huntoon and Mr. Marc Melancon. Ms. Nordquist wanted to read her letters of complaints to the Commissioners but they had received the letters in their packets from Mr. Lazar. Ms. Nordquist stated she does not feel safe around Mr. Goldberg.
Street Artist Trevor Burkhart agreed that the issue at hand is very important and that there are valid reasons to grant a continuance of the alleged incident since there is a lot of information to be discussed.
Street Artist Marc Melancon spoke to defend Ms. Nordquist. He stated he is also uncomfortable working at the Cliff House/Point Lobos location with the current rivalry between artists at that location. Mr. Melancon stated that Street Artist Toney Burkhart hit him in August 2009. Mr. Melancon stated that he did not feel it is fair to grant a continuance of the issue involving Mr. Goldberg.
Street Artist Sarah Huntoon defended Ms. Nordquist. Ms. Huntoon stated that there have been ongoing issues at the Cliff House location. She brought up an incident involving Mr. Trevor Burkhart’s first day as a street artist and when he requested her to show her license. She was disappointed in the decision of the Committee to issue a continuance. She stated that the lottery procedures are disrupted on a regular basis due to inappropriate, aggressive, interruptive behavior by other artists which can be very intimidating.
Director of Cultural Affairs Luis Cancel assured the attendants of the meeting that the San Francisco Arts Commission takes these accusations very seriously which is why there needs to be a more thorough investigation than the meeting of September 8, 2010 will allow. The issue will be fully addressed at the next Street Artists Committee meeting with testimony from all witnesses. The issue will be dealt with seriously.
Mr. Chew agreed that the Street Artists Committee did not want to make hasty decisions.
Ms. Silverman added that it is important for the Street Artists Committee to listen to the recordings.
The motion was unanimously approved.
3. Action. Hearing and possible motion to recommend approval of Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners screening criteria for “Slumped/Flattened Bottles and Labels”; implementation of criteria to commence thirty (30) days after approval by Full Arts Commission:
a) A raw commercially-manufactured bottle must be cleaned, prepared, slumped, and finished by the street artist.
b) The bottle must show a substantial or significant transformation of its commercial elements by the artist.
c) A bottle’s commercial label or applied images which are not created by the artist must be substantially altered to reflect significant input by the artist to the item as a whole. If the artist does not significantly alter the label or applied images, the artist may embellish the bottle itself; but the embellishment must visually outweigh the unaltered commercial label or images.
Program Director Lazar introduced the recommended criteria. He stated that the main reason why the issue has come up is because the label, which is not made by the artist, seems to be clinching the sale for the artists. According to the City Attorney, the Arts Commission is allowed to enhance it’s screening criteria of any street artists product. The Advisory Committee held a meeting to draft criteria for this issue. Although item C allows a commercial label, it still requires that the artist significantly adorn the bottle so the label does not draw the attention of the viewer.
Commissioner Chaung moved to recommend approval of Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners screening criteria for “Slumped/Flattened Bottles and Labels”; implementation of criteria to commence thirty (30) days after approval by full Arts Commission; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Silverman.
Street Artist Tad Sky, a Liaison Committee member, approved all of the criteria recommended by the Advisory Committee. He agreed that the criteria needed to be drafted in order to make the Slumped/Flattened bottles a legitimate craft.
Street Artist Pat Lloyd introduced herself as the artist who started the Slumped/Flattened bottle movement. She came from Key West, Florida. Many artists, she stated, have duplicated her in the program by using her product, business name and display. Ms. Lloyd has requested a hearing many times but instead there has been a meeting about criteria. She also stated that many other bottle artists use images from online sources and that there are copy right issues.
Street Artist Michael Addario, Chair of the Liaison Committee, stated that item C of the criteria seems to be a loop hole so artists can use commercial labels. He does not believe any commercial labels should be allowed in the program. He found an Administrative Code section that states that it is illegal to promote tobacco/alcoholic products on City property. He addressed the problem that changing the criteria could displace other artists.
Commissioner Chew asked Ms. Lloyd if any corporate companies like Jim Bean have contacted her regarding the use of their labels. Ms. Lloyd said no but many other companies have given her their labels to make customized bottles for them.
Director of Cultural Affairs Cancel asked Mr. Lazar how many artists would affected by this change in criteria. Mr. Lazar responded: nine artists. With the new criteria in place, these nine artists would be rescreened and are either expected to make their own labels or embellish the bottles so that the label is no the dominant focal point of the item.
Commissioner Silverman interjected that she doesn’t have as big of an issue with the labels because of the history of ready made art but she understands that the program is based on handcrafted items.
Mr. Lazar stated that the Street Artists Program is based on the artists making and selling their own arts and crafts which they have predominately created or significantly altered.
Commissioner Chew agreed that “borrowed interest” does not sit well with him.
The motion was unanimously approved.
4. Discussion. Street Artists Program Director’s Report.
Weekly Cliff House meeting with Cliff House artists: Mr. Lazar and Ms. Licouris have been meeting regularly with the Cliff House artists to draft a set of rules and regulations for the 3 designated spaces located at Point Lobos. A rough draft of the rules and regulations will be ready for the November Street Artists Committee meeting.
Public records requests and Sunshine Task Force items: Beginning on July 1, 2010, Mr. Lazar has spent 16 hours fulfilling public record requests and Sunshine Task Force duties.
Studio visits: The Street Artists Program staff and the Advisory Committee have completed 2 studio visits recently. On August 25, 2010, there was a studio visit involving a family which sells flattened bottles. On Sept 1, 2010, the studio visit was to determine if a family unit created tied dyed apparel.
Street monitoring: Mr. Lazar has been visiting the streets artists at their sties lately due to many complaints about display size violations. Mr. Lazar has issued many warnings to enforce the display size regulations and now many of those artists are in compliance.
Program Director hearings: In July 2010, there was a hearing involving an artist who wanted a warning removed from the records. Mr. Lazar did not withdraw the warning.
Press: On July 22, 2010 in the SF Chronicle, the Street Artists Program was highlighted in an article which focused on lunchtime activities at Market and Steuart Streets. The article included a photo of street artist Joso Vidal.
Fisherman’s Wharf lottery rules: There have been many disagreements with certain lottery procedures at the Fisherman’s Wharf lottery. There are 2-3 proposals in progress from various street artists concerning this debate. Mr. Lazar would like to have this issue heard at the November Street Artists Committee meeting. The City Attorney has stated that the Arts Commission has discretionary power over the lottery rules and advised that the proposal chosen by the Street Artists Committee be submitted to the City Attorney for review and determination as to weather or not an ordinance amendment would be necessary.
Mr. Cancel suggested the Liaison Committee and Program staff work together to draft a proposal for presentation to the Street Artists Committee.
5. Action. Hearing and possible motion to authorize Program Director to request Board of Supervisors continuation of designation of plaza located at 17th Street/Castro Street as an area for street artists with the exception of certain days in which the plaza shall be used exclusively for a street fair such as the Castro Street Fair or Castro CBD-sponsored events.
Mr. Lazar gave a brief description about the Castro Street spaces and the history of their designation.
Commissioner Silverman moved to approve the motion to authorize Program Director to request Board of Supervisors continuation of designation of plaza located at 17th Street/Castro Street as an area for street artists with the exception of certain days in which the plaza shall be used exclusively for a street fair such as the Castro Street Fair or Castro CBD-sponsored events; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Chuang.
Mr. Tad Sky agreed with the decision to obtain more spaces. Although these Castro spaces aren’t popular, Mr. Sky believed it is important to keep these spaces and they could eventually become more active.
The motion was unanimously approved.
6. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve recommendations of Street Artists Liaison Committee meeting of August 11, 2010:
a) Recommendation for Arts Commission to request street artist selling spaces on Port of San Francisco property adjacent to Pier 33 and Pier 35.
Commissioner Silverman moved to approve the recommendation for Arts Commission to request street artist selling spaces on Port of San Francisco property adjacent to Pier 33 and Pier 35; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Chuang.
Mr. Michael Addario reminded the Commissioners about the Fisherman’s Wharf renovation project. Mr. Addario stated that the Liaison Committee was still unsure of the exact location of the proposed spaces but would like to see spaces by the Pier 39 flags. Obtaining spaces at these locations would be a preemptive move since many of our artists at Fisherman’s wharf will be displaced during construction.
Mr. Tad Sky agreed with Mr. Addario and added that there is a wide open plaza near these piers and is unsure if this is considered Port property.
The motion was unanimously approved.
b) Recommendation for Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners to implement, in monitoring street artist displays, a checklist of adherence to regulations by each artist monitored.
Mr. Lazar explained the duties of the Advisory Committee in monitoring the street artists activities and send notes and images by email to the Program Director. From these notes, there are recommendations on issuance of warnings or scheduling studio visits. The checklist is another way to verify artist compliance. The checklist would be made up of carbon copy sheets to be received by the program office, the Liaison Committee, and the Advisory Committee.
Mr. Cancel suggested that the Commissioners address this issue when the Liaison Committee has a checklist ready.
Commissioner Chew called for a motion on this recommendation. No motion was forthcoming.
c) Recommendation for Arts Commission to appoint at least one (1) member of Street Artists Liaison Committee to also serve as a member of the Street Artists Committee.
Mr. Cancel informed the Commissioners that according to the bylaws of the Arts Commission, only Commissioners are allowed on committees.
Commissioner Chuang stated that a street artist on the committee could be a conflict of interest in many cases.
Commissioner Chew called for public comment relative to the recommendation.
Mr. Tad Sky stated that this issue has been around for many years. Mr. Sky believed that, with the high turnover rate of Commissioners, it is hard for new Commissioners to catch up and become familiar with the program quickly. Since the street artists are participants in the program, they would provide a new perspective different from that of the Commissioners or the Program Director.
Mr. Michael Addario stated that the street artists should have voting power and that putting a Liaison Committee member on the Street Artists Committee would help to obtain this vote. Mr. Addario introduced the idea of making a street artist a Commissioner and when there is a conflict of interest, the street artist may recuse themselves.
Ms. Debra King, a Liaison Committee member, agreed that street artists need more input than they are currently allowed.
Commissioner Chew called for a motion on this recommendation. No motion was forthcoming.
7. Discussion. Report by Street Artists Liaison Committee.
Street Artist Michael Addario, Chairman of the Street Artists Liaison Committee, thanked the Commissioners for participating in the Street Artists Committee and recognized them for their work.
8. Discussion. New Business/Public Comment.
Mr. Tad Sky reminded the Commissioners and Program staff that the 40th anniversary of the Street Artists Program is in 2012 and that we should start thinking about planning for this event. Mr. Sky suggested having banners made to celebrate this event and possibly proclaim Justin Herman Plaza as an arts and crafts zone.
There being no new business or further public comment, Commissioner Chew adjourned the meeting at 5:10p.m.
Alyssa Licouris, Street Artists Program Assistant
Minutes approved by:
Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Director