City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

Street Artists Committee - September 10, 2014 - Meeting Minutes

Street Artists Committee - September 10, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
2:30 p.m.

25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
San Francisco, CA 94102


1. Roll Call

Commissioners Present:
Barbara Sklar, Chair
Greg Chew
Simon Frankel
Marcus Shelby
Janine Shiota

Commissioners Absent: None

Staff present: Arts Commission Deputy Director Rebekah Krell, Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Assistant Alyssa Licouris

The meeting was called to order at 2:35 p.m.

2.   Discussion.  Street Artists Program Director’s Report.

Program Director Lazar reported on the following:

Advisory Committee Criteria meetings: The Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners has held 12 meetings to review and upgrade the screening criteria of arts and crafts submitted by street artist applicants for certification. The last time the Arts Commission approved the major portion of the current criteria was in 1977. He said the Advisory Committee and the staff felt it was time to re-examine and upgrade much of the criteria to ensure more of artists’ participation in their arts and crafts.

Studio Visits: The Advisory Committee completed 6 studio visits on 10 street artists. He explained that the purpose of a studio visit was to further verify that the artists make their own work. The Committee approved all 10 artists.

Book Award: Street Artist Heather Ussery’s book, The Noise Beneath the Apple, about New York jazz musicians won the American Library Association’s Book of the Year Award for Performing Arts and Music.

Press Coverage: Cheryl Chen’s jewelry was featured in La Palme magazine. (Mr. Lazar presented a copy to the Commissioners who viewed photos of Ms. Chen’s jewelry).

Sing Tao Daily: Program Director Lazar was interviewed about the Street Artists Program by a reporter from Sing Tao Daily, the leading world Chinese newspaper.

Winter Holiday Spaces: This year will be the 33rd consecutive year that street artists will be able to sell in 60 additional spaces, during the winter holiday season, primarily in the downtown area and Harvey Milk Plaza, obtained for them by the Arts Commission.

Port Spaces: The Port authorized 4 temporary spaces during spring break in April which were lucrative for the artists. Program Director Lazar said he has written to the Port for authorization to use them again, on a weekend basis, but has not heard back.

Lottery Committee: Program Director Lazar continues to meet with the Lottery Committee on a monthly basis to discuss rules, procedures and proposals relevant to assigning street artist spaces.

Street Artists passing: Program Director Lazar reported that Marcia Seeman, jeweler and leathercraft artist who participated in the Street Artists Program since the 1970s, passed away. Eberardo Hernandez, painter and street artist participant since the 1990s, passed away. Both artists sold at Justin Herman Plaza. Program Director Lazar said that the works of both artists represented the best of the program.

Commissioner Shelby asked how the Arts Commission finds out about construction projects that would impact street artist spaces.

Program Director Lazar answered that construction companies will usually call him. He recently received a phone call about the impeding demolition of a building at Post and Stockton streets which will temporarily eliminate the street artist spaces on both sidewalks due to barricades. He added that a beneficial aspect of the Street Artists Program is that the artists are not stuck in one place. He explained that, unlike other permittees, they can move to other locations. At the same time, Mr. Lazar will attempt to find alternative locations of similar value to the ones that will be eliminated.

Commissioner Chew commented that there is a history in the Union Square area of having to move street artist spaces due to various construction projects.

There was no public comment.

3.   Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve proposal of Program Director to relocate street artist selling space B-00 a distance of 11 feet eastward from B-0 on Beach Street.

Program Director Lazar explained that, in the 1990s, the artists wanted to add two spaces to an open area near the corner of Beach Street at Hyde Street. He said that businessman Stanley Roth already had a permit to sell his hot dogs opposite where the two spaces would be located but did not oppose the proposal at the Board of Supervisors. Program Director Lazar explained that Mr. Roth and he have found that the area between the street artists and the hot dog stand is a narrow passageway, and it has become a congested area during busy summertime traffic.

Program Director Lazar stated that he, Mr. Roth and Ms. Cynthia Hoe of DPW met and came up with a solution which would allow for more space in that area. They found that the present 10 newsracks can be replaced with 6 newsracks allowing for space B-00 to move into the vacated newsrack space. This would create an 11-foot distance between B-00 and B-0 and an open area in front of Mr. Roth’s hot dog stand.

Commissioner Sklar asked Program Director Lazar if anyone has opposed this proposal. Program Director Lazar answered that he has spoken with many street artists about this, asked the Lottery Committee to mention it at their lotteries, and the proposal and maps have been placed online and e-mailed to the artists. He said that he has heard no objections. He explained that, according to the City Attorney, he has the authority to move a space to a new location on its block without the Arts Commission’s approval, but he wanted the matter to come before the Street Artists Program Committee for a hearing to give opportunity for anyone to object or propose an alternative solution.

The Commissioners asked if Ms. Hoe was in agreement with reducing the number of newsracks. She said it would not be a problem since there were some vacancies in the newsracks and that she was able to consolidate some vendors to a “split rack”. She said that vendors initially objected when proposing to remove all of the newsracks.

Commissioner Frankel asked about the elimination of the skateboard sign. Program Director Lazar and Ms. Hoe confirmed that it would be moved.

Commissioner Frankel asked if Mr. Roth, Ms. Hoe and Mr. Lazar thought this proposal would achieve their end goal. They agreed they felt it would be a good solution.

Mr. Roth added that his hot dog booth is only 8x8 feet and its table is small, so there is ample room around the tent housing it that allows for extra unused space.

Public Comment:
Mr. Roth stated that, in the 1970s, he was licensed as street artist #116. He explained that because the Police wouldn’t give food permits, he got a license to sell baked sculptures also known as pretzels. With respect to the current proposal, he presented the Street Artists Committee with photographs to show the congestion of pedestrian traffic created by the street artists and his hot dog stand. He said that there was an amendment to the mobile food ordinance in 2012 which allows him to sell other items and that, since he is planning to add more products, he anticipates this will create more congestion. He said he is satisfied with this proposal as a remedy.

There was no additional public comment.

Motion: Motion to approve proposal of Program Director to relocate street artist selling space B-00 a distance of 11 feet eastward from B-0 on Beach Street.
Moved: Chew, Shelby.

The motion was unanimously approved.

4. Action. Hearing and possible motion to approve arts and crafts criteria changes recommended by the Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners.

Program Director Lazar explained that Advisory Committee members, through the years, have always wanted an opportunity to review and amend the criteria they apply in screening the arts and crafts. He stated that for the next Program Committee meeting there will be a few minor criteria additions.

Commissioner Sklar asked to make sure a timeline is set for when the new criteria is put into place. Program Director Lazar agreed that certain crafts may necessitate time for artists to conform to new rules.

Program Director Lazar explained that many times applicants don’t understand the term “handcrafted item”. He said that, over the years, the Advisory Committee has adopted a 51% test where an item must be altered by at least 51% by the artist to help applicants understand what is required of them.

Program Director Lazar thanked Commissioner Sklar for attending a screening meeting. She agreed it is very difficult to screen applicants. Program Director Lazar stated that this 51% criterion now being proposed will help in communication with applicants and Advisory Committee members.

Commissioner Sklar suggested that the proposed general criteria guidelines be moved to the top of the list. Commissioner Frankel agreed.

Commissioner Frankel asked Program Director Lazar for clarification about the proposed 51% criterion.

Program Director Lazar pointed to the new category for “Apparel”. He explained that this was an important category to add since many artists produce original artwork on t-shirts and clothing, and the Advisory Committee wants to verify that a shirt not made by the artist is covered by at least 51% by the artist’s artwork. The Commissioners discussed this item and agreed that it should be reworded to read more efficiently.

Commissioner Frankel asked about the origin of the commercial label requirement. Program Director Lazar explained that the Advisory Committee feels that a commercially manufactured shirt bearing its manufacturer’s label sends a wrong message to a customer since they may think that the artwork on the shirt was not created by the artist selling the shirt but by the manufacturer of the shirt. The Commissioners were unsure if this was problematic and agreed that it needed more work. The Commissioners suggested that the artist could be required to keep the company label but also add a label that says “design/graphic by” to let the consumer know who created the design.

Commissioner Shiota asked about omissions of certain crafts such as the shell jewelry craft. Program Director Lazar explained that certain natural materials may be allowed if they are not on an endangered species list. Program Assistant Licouris added that the Advisory Committee felt that shell jewelry could fall under the general category of jewelry so that it did not need its own category anymore. Commissioner Shiota agreed the document needed work.

Program Director Lazar explained a recent case of an artist who picked up driftwood and did not know that, under federal law, a person can’t take anything from federally owned beaches; the Advisory Committee wouldn’t approve the artist’s item based on that point. He wanted the Committee to keep in mind there will always be new crafts for consideration.

Commissioner Frankel suggested that general language for a handcrafted item be placed at the beginning of the list with other general rules such as “all federal, state laws will apply.” He also suggested that while particular categories should have guidelines, some categories could be eliminated if they only repeat the general rule of creating an item that is significantly altered or predominately created. He suggested that they narrow down the specific categories and elaborate them with general bullet points. He said this could eliminate repetition of the guideline “significantly altered or predominately created”.

Program Director explained that the Advisory Committee felt that repetition of the guidelines was necessary because sometimes applicants only focus on their own craft category and they don’t read anything else.

Commissioner Sklar suggested that the Commissioners and staff go through the categories and figure out which crafts need to be mentioned and which should be eliminated.

Program Director Lazar explained a previous issue about music and audio cassettes. He said that originally the Arts Commission didn’t want to license cassettes but City Attorney Agnost maintained that the artist’s performance was the art being sold so the artist should be licensed to sell cassettes of his/her performance. In addition, the artist wishing to sell the recording does not necessarily have to be the performer so long as he/she contributed significantly to the performance (e.g. sound mixing or enhancement).

Program Director Lazar gave the background of the proposed leather criteria. He said that the Advisory Committee was bothered that the large buckle, not made by the artist, is displayed more prominently than the belt that the artist makes. They felt that it sends the message that the artist makes the buckle when it is not true. Program Director Lazar explained the leathercraft artists usually do not create their buckles. Commissioner Frankel suggested refining the language for the Advisory Committee’s proposed leathercraft criteria. Program Director Lazar explained the history of leathercraft artists selling buckles separately. Program Assistant Licouris also said that some leather artists came to a criteria meeting and explained that a simple belt can still involve a very extensive process with a lot of steps.

Commissioner Chew asked for background on the labeling of work. Program Director Lazar said that the Advisory Committee wants artists to sign their work so it is understood that the artists made the work they are selling.

Commissioner Sklar asked about the printmaking and photography criteria. Program Director Lazar explained that the artist must be the one to create the image as well as add a print attribution. He said there was previously a hearing about photography. He said customers get confused as to why some prints are much more expensive than others and that the print attribution helps to let the customer know what type of print is being sold. He said that the sale of limited editions is left up to the artist.

Commissioner Frankel suggested that wording of the “Miscellaneous” category be placed under the general criteria.

Commissioner Sklar wants the Advisory Committee members to know the Commissioners appreciate their work and appreciate the difficulties they encountered in drafting the proposed criteria.

Commissioner Chew reminded the Committee that the Program is still looking for an Advisory Committee member to fill a vacancy. Program Director Lazar explained that the applicant must have an arts and crafts understanding and that compensation is $100 per meeting or assignment.

The motion was tabled until the next meeting.

There was no public comment.

5.   Discussion. Public Comment.

Commissioner Chew commented that, in contrast with a recent public comment, the Street Artists Committee does meet.

There was no public comment.

6.    Discussion. New Business and Announcements.

Commissioner Sklar asked when the winter holiday season starts. Program Director Lazar answered that the season starts on November 15. He said that the Program will put maps of the winter holiday spaces online and will print copies to hand out at the office.

Commissioner Sklar encouraged the other Commissioners to buy from the artists.

Commissioner Frankel asked if the spaces will return after the construction project. Program Director Lazar answered that he anticipates that all of the spaces will be reinstated since they were granted by the Board of Supervisors.

Commissioner Chew stated that street artists benefit greatly from access to expensive sidewalk real estate.

Commissioner Sklar described her idea of a quarterly award of excellence for street artists selected by a joint committee possibly composed of Advisory Committee members and Street Artists Committee members. She said that it would be to highlight an artist through the Arts Commission. Another idea would be for the new Arts Commission gallery space to accommodate a display case dedicated to items of the street artists of excellence and possibly have those items for sale. She said it would help increase exposure and get other artists interested in becoming street artists. She said she is looking at ways to encourage artists.

Program Director Lazar explained that the last time street artists were showcased in an Arts Commission gallery show was in 1980.

Commissioner Chew briefly described the 40th anniversary event which also showcased the artists.

Commissioner Shelby asked if the other Commissioners received an email he received from street artist Michael Addario about a Board of Supervisors debate relevant to the street artists. The other Commissioners replied that they had not received it.

There was no public comment.

7.    Action. Adjournment.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:54 p.m.

9/17/14 ADL

Respectfully submitted by:
Alyssa Licouris, Street Artists Program Assistant

Minutes approved by:
Howard Lazar, Street Artists Program Director

An audio recording of this meeting is available online at the following address:

Translated written materials and interpretation services are available to you at no cost. For assistance, please notify Howard Lazar, 415-252-2583,

如需協助,Howard Lazar, 415-252-2583,

Materiales traducidos y servicios de interpretación están disponibles para usted de manera gratuita. Para asistencia, notifique a Howard Lazar, 415-252-2583,

Ang mga materyales na nakasalin sa ibang wika at ang mga serbisyong tagapagsalin sa wika ay walang bayad. Para sa tulong, maaring i-contact si Howard Lazar, 415-252-2583,