Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mastrovincenzo vs. N.Y.C.

Last month this pottery vendor was arrested in N.Y.C for vending her art on public property without a vendors licence.

In New York City a license is required to sell general merchandise such as pottery, jewelry, non-political t-shirts and other items that are not written matter or art, defined as painting, sculpture and photography and prints. These last four items are protected constitutionally and a licence is not required.

In this footage, a couple with no license set up a table of pottery to sell on West Broadway near Spring Street in Soho. A couple of plainclothes policeman came along and first inquired of the potter , "How much is this?" to establish the fact that she was selling. Then the officer inquired, "Do you have a license to vend?" The potter did not know that a license was required but ignorance of the law is no excuse. The police arrested her and her partner, put handcuffs on both of them.

It is not recommended that anyone who comes to New York tries to sell on the street without a license unless selling books, written matter and conventional forms of art such as painting, sculpture , photography,prints and political t-shirts.

Until crafts people make the effort to organize, lobby and to approach the issue in the courts - the situation faced by the potters in this video clip will continue. Everybody wants someone else to do it .

We may all agree that an elegant raku fired vase is art and other than holding a willow sprig, it has nothing but aesthetic value. This could go to court and win according to standards set forth in Federal cases Mastrovincenzo vs. Bloomberg or Bery vs N.Y.C. but who is willing to go to bat for the potter. Should be a potter i'd say.

Criticism has been leveled at the visual artists of St. Augustine that we are only concerned with "our" rights. These are not "our" rights but everyone's right to display and sell artwork on public property.


  1. Yeah sure, "Just Us" Suvo cares about your rights.Don't think so.

  2. Anonymous04 May, 2009

    Me thinks Suvo has a cyberstalker