1250 Broadway, 27th Floor New York, NY 10001


NYC Doesn't Care for This Art

In May 2022, artists Kit-Yin Snyder and Richard Haas filed suit against the City of New York alleging that the Manhattan Detention Complex’s renovation plans jeopardized their creative work. A week after the case began, the plaintiffs were granted a temporary injunction until District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan heard oral arguments. (At which time, the injunction was vacated.)

On August 8th, the city filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that governing laws -- like the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) – didn’t apply to their mural. And Judge Kaplan appears to be siding with the City’s position that this art is not “of recognized stature.” (Apparently, the only recognition the piece received was an Art Commissioner’s Award for Excellence in Design, back in the 80’s, which didn’t satisfy the statutory standards.)

The city’s motion cites the Second Circuit decision in Carter v. Helmsley-Spear Inc., for the proposition that these five mural pieces were individual works which did not qualify as “visual art” under VARA, since they served a utilitarian function beyond their visual appeal. (It was also argued there were exceptions when the art is incorporated into a building.)

Notwithstanding the dismissal request, the City represented that it plans to preserve the works and to relocate them to another site.

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Snyder et al. v. Adams et al. (Compaint)

https://www.law360.com/articles/1519253/nyc-wants-artists-suit-over-jail-renovation-tossed (subscription required)