For the past six years, Diane Dua has sold her photographs outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She estimates on a bright summer Sunday, there will be 80 other vendors out there with her, hawking their goods to passers-by.
But on Monday the city is slashing that number down to 16. The Parks Department says vendors clog popular parks, such as Central Park and Union Square. The dealers say Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to whitewash the Big Apple.
“They want to … turn this town into some antiseptic, homogenized bore,” fumed Dua. She and others have sued the city claiming their First Amendment rights are being violated.
But the Parks Department isn’t backing down — and even challenged what the vendors call “art.”
“Mass-produced photographs, that’s not art in my opinion,” said spokesperson Vickie Karp. “This is about sharing the park. If a mom can’t get her stroller to the playground because she’s tripping over someone selling 100 copies of Strawberry Fields, who protects her?”
Vendors will claim the limited spots on a first-come basis. Dua said artists will have to camp out overnight in order to grab one of the coveted spaces.