“SHOWTIME: Underground Arts” OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

BuskNY is pleased to announce that we are open for submissions for our upcoming exhibition. Please submit your work or share this information with any artists you know whose work is relevant to our theme!

SHOWTIME: Underground Arts”

OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

BUSKNY ART SHOW at Armature Art Space

logosm

BuskNY and Armature Art Space invite you to submit work for “SHOWTIME,” an exhibition of art made in and about the subway and public transit.

BuskNY is an arts advocacy organization that was created in 2013. Our mission is to generate broad awareness of the legality of artistic performance in the New York City subway, in order to end wrongful ejection, ticketing, and arrest of subway performers. While our primary focus is on musicians and performing artists, we also promote the creation, promotion, and sale of art by independent artists in the subway.

Through SHOWTIME, we will support visual artists whose work deals with or is made or sold in public transit and public space, with a particular focus on art made in the subway system itself. SHOWTIME will refocus the subway art dialogue on work made by independent artists, and publicly reemphasize that all New Yorkers can participate in the creative process.

Our partner, Armature Art Space, is a Bushwick gallery that showcases local artists using traditional media. Armature, which describes itself as “the support (or “armature”) on which artists can express themselves and around which artists may build community,” has graciously offered its gallery space free of charge.

The opening reception for SHOWTIME will feature refreshments and live performances by visual artists and prominent subway musicians.

Show dates: October 3-12
Opening: Friday, October 3 7-11 PM
Submission deadline: September 19
Work dropoff times: Minimum 3 days before opening
Work pickup times: Sunday, October 12 1-5 PM
Address: Armature Art Space, 316 Weirfield St, Brooklyn, NY

Submission information appears on the following page. We appreciate your interest, and will respond to all queries in a timely manner. Please feel free to forward this message to other artists, and to connect with us online at buskny.com or armatureartspace.org.

Milo Wissig

BuskNY Co-founder

milo@buskny.com


Submissions

Please send all submissions and inquiries to Milo Wissig, milo@buskny.com, with SHOWTIME SUBMISSION in the subject line. Please include an image of the piece[s] you would like to submit with the file name formatted as: Name_Title_HeightxWidthxDepth_Medium_Year.jpg.

The images should be 72 DPI JPEGs about 1000 pixels wide. Please include the following information:

Name

Title

Dimensions

Medium

Year

Retail price

If you choose to sell your work, you will receive 100% of the retail price. (Armature Art Space takes no commissions).You may submit up to six pieces for consideration; we will likely choose 1 to 3.

Open_Call_SHOWTIME (PDF)

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7th Busker Ball

This Thursday we attended the 7th quarterly Busker Ball, an event organized by Theo Eastwind, in which some of the best buskers in New York performed at Williamsburg bar and music venue Spike Hill. Theo has been inviting us to speak about busker’s rights, distribute flyers and sell t-shirts for the past few Busker Balls.

The lineup for this season’s show:

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Matthew Christian, back from Dakar, gave a presentation about BuskNY. Matthew outlined what we’ve done in the past year and our current projects, and announced our plans for the 2014 BuskNY T-shirt.

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It turned out Matthew had left a cache of misprints of last year’s shirt in a drawer. We sold a few but gave most of them away to the performers.

shirtdesign2014

Our design for this summer’s shirt. I’m planning on cleaning it up a bit and printing with four colors on dark colored shirts. I’m using a different technique of printing this time in which each layer will be hand-painted directly onto the screens without the need for photo emulsion or an exposure unit.

Following the success of last year’s Kickstarter campaign, we will be raising the money to make our new shirts free to all performers. We would like to include footage of a variety of buskers in our video, so if you would like to participate you can either send your own brief clips (webcam or phone video is fine) of yourself performing or speaking about busking and police harassment to milo@buskny.com, or contact us so that we can film you ourselves later in the month when we’re putting the video together.

The next Busker Ball is October 30th at 7:30 at Spike Hill!

Fifth Busker Ball

Theo Eastwind suggested we sell the leftover “Music is Legal!” t-shirts at the 5th Busker Ball last Thursday at Spike Hill so I went to set up a merchandise table and took a lot of blurry shots of the show. We even got one of our shirts pinned up to the curtain with Blueberry Season pins.

photo taken by Shiloh Levy

photo by Shiloh Levy


It was a great show! I encourage anybody who missed it to come to the next Busker Ball on April 24th– and ask Theo about getting involved if you want to perform.


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BUSKERBALL 038Shiloh and Heth talking about BuskNY

Shiloh Levy gave a presentation about buskers’ rights explaining what BuskNY is all about, followed by Heth of Heth and Jed who discussed his recent legal victory. I gave the last ten or so shirts to Arthur and Shiloh to distribute, so now I have room for the 2014 shirts. We learned a lot about what people want in a shirt from the first run, so I’m planning on doing something a little more complicated, and with a more inclusive message. There may be another Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for materials and equipment. I’ll keep you updated!

Charges dropped

This is the second post in our case database series.

I would write up today’s news that the charges associated with my July 25th arrest were dropped, but there’s very little fanfare to report. When my name was called in court, I didn’t even have fifteen seconds of fame: the judge asked if I was indeed named Matthew Christian, I said I was, and she said: “alright, you’re all set.” And that was that: no paperwork, and not the least crumb of a sense that the city regrets having had me arrested for playing the violin.

There is one very important piece of take-away information from these: having video evidence of your arrest is important. In the video I took, my arresting officer insists that I’m not allowed to perform without a permit. That claim — which he used on video to justify my arrest — doesn’t hold water legal, as there is no such permit. The police flirted briefly with charges for blocking traffic, but since the police in the video had raised no concern about traffic, and since there had been no visible problem with traffic, they changed to a very dated state law concerning train stations.

The assistant district attorney handling my case could evidently see that wouldn’t fly. My Legal Aid attorney informed me a week ago that they had spoken by phone and that the charges would be dropped.

Could this case have gone differently? Sure: my arrest on 6/18 involved precisely the same circumstances, but because I didn’t take a video, I’m still charged with blocking traffic. If my arresting officer from 7/25 claimed that I was blocking traffic, it’s patently obvious that he’s lying; but if my arresting officer from 6/18 claims the same thing, it’s his word against mine. That case will be resolved tomorrow, and unfortunately, the lack of video means I’ll have to accept an ACD.

 

Submit your photos to the “Music is Legal” t-shirt gallery

Almost immediately after we started giving them out, we began spotting our “Music is Legal!” t-shirts all over the city. Now that we’ve managed to distribute most of this summer’s supply, we’re creating a gallery of photos performers wearing the shirts.

If you have a photo of yourself you’d like to submit, you can send it to BuskNY@gmail.com and we’ll post it in our “Music is Legal!” gallery!

We only have a few photos so far, but it would be great to see more people showing support!


Meanwhile, I’ve been working on setting up my own silkscreen equipment, so I can make even better shirts, with a new design, next year.

Also, don’t forget that our “Music is Legal” event at Armature Art Space in Bushwick is this Monday night! We hope to see you there!

Working with the MTA: accountability for station agents

Summary:

Station agents often wrongfully call police on performers. If police tell you they were called by a station agent, or simply that they “got a call,” you can assert your right to perform. But also, you have the option of reporting the station agent. To do so, record the number on the badge displayed in the booth window. Then, call 511 and leave a clear complaint stating what occurred. The MTA will follow up with you by mail to consult about retraining — and you have created an official record that will protect future buskers in that station.

Are station agents ever responsible for the arrival of the police? And can we effect change by working with the MTA to address harassment that arises from station agents’ misunderstandings of the rules? That’s a question that most of us don’t think to ask — and indeed, it seems that the police most often get involved with performers of their own accord, when they really should be doing other things.

However, it may be that station agents do request police interventions more often than we realize. After all, when the police throw you out, you have to get right out — which precludes going to the booth to find out from the station agent if there were factually any concerns about noise or traffic. (It also keeps you from filing any complaints, and we’ve written before about being ejected precludes any documentation of the harassment). So really, a performer who’s ejected has no way to know if a complaint was made by the station agent at all, unless he or she risks arrest by disobeying an officer’s order to stay out.

I had the rare opportunity to find out directly about a station agent’s involvement on August 1. As I wrote in a post about that incident, I showed the officers a copy of the rules, and after reading them, they agreed that there was no reason for me to cease the performance.

I haven’t yet shared information about the next part. Once the officers had left, I went to the station agent and asked if she knew why the police had come. To my considerable surprise, she told me right up front that she had called them, apparently in response to a customer complaint. “And you know that performing here is legal?” I asked. “Well, I had to call, because it was a customer complaint,” she replied. I found this a bit unsatisfactory, and asked her if she would call the police if told by a customer that there was a train in the train station. She replied that she wouldn’t, but that she did feel obliged to call to report a musician.

I didn’t find that answer acceptable. So, I took down her badge number and immediately dialed the MTA at 511 to file a complaint. I told them that the police had been called to ask me to stop performing, and that the police themselves had refused to enforce that order. I explained the law to them briefly, and asked if they could look into why the station agent had called the police to report an activity permitted by the MTA.

Well, lo and behold, I got a call this week from the 81st St manager, who is looking into the complaint. I told her in no uncertain terms that she should find out what’s going on with this station agent. When she didn’t immediately sound convinced, I mentioned that wrongful arrests have begun to cost the city through the nose — and indeed, she sounded receptive to that point.

When I arrived home today from Boston, I had a follow-up letter from the MTA. It read:

“This is in response to your August 1 telephone call to MTA New York City Transit reporting a station agent at the 81st Street station.

We regret if you experienced any difficulty while using the subway system. We have forwarded your complaint to supervision in our Department of Subways for review. Based on the information you provided, we hope to identify this station agent for questioning and appropriate action.”

I’m pleased to know that the MTA is looking into this. It doesn’t make sense for their staff to be enforcing rules that don’t exist, and they’re handling the problem the right way.

But, they’ll only be able to do that if we let them know about harassment stemming from station agents, and that means doing some sleuthing ourselves. If you’re ever harassed within a station, given a summons, asked to leave, or arrested, make sure you follow up on it with the station agent. Even if it’s the next day, you can likely find out who the person was and obtain a badge number. If you get confirmation that the station agent called the police — particularly if there’s a known problem with harassment, as there is at 81st St — you should call up 511 and report it.

The MTA’s willing to work with us on this one. And every time we advocate for discussion and training, we have the change to make a ‘harassment station’ into a safe station. That’s what we call change for the better in NYC!

Zoom Balloons in the 14th Street Sixth Avenue Tunnel

On our way back from Harlem, Matthew and I stopped to pick up some cheese at the Westside Market on 14th St. and ran into balloon sculptor Zoom in the tunnel. We had met Zoom a few times before, and in fact still have a gift from him, one of his heart flower balloons, slowly shriveling on top of a dresser.

This time, we got this great balloon clown. Everyone was jealous of it. Or terrified. It was hard to tell.

Matthew and Zoom

Matthew and Zoom

Nothing seems to lower Matthew’s inhibitions quite like holding a silly prop does.  Enjoying the reactions of strangers to the balloon man, he asked our train neighbor what we should name it.

He responded, “Charlie Sheen.”

Matthew and Charlie Sheen

Charlie and Matthew reflected in the train window

Zoom’s web site at http://www.zoomballoons.com/ appears to be down, but I found an article about him on the blog Manalapan Patch. If you’re in the tunnel between the L and the 1 on the 14th St Sixth Avenue station, check out his work!