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Huizar's Office Says Gallery Night Fees Were 'Never Mentioned'

Spokesman asserts that council office is in full support of Second Saturday Gallery Night.

Rick Coca, Press Deputy for Councilman José Huizar, said reports that the councilman's office had called local gallery owners threatening to charge them fees for their participation in NELA Art's Second Saturday Gallery Night were "absolutely not true."

As previously reported on Patch, MorYork Gallery Owner Clare Graham posted a message on his blog on Thursday indicating he would be shutting down to the public due to an inability to pay "looming significant costs that will be assigned by the city for services."

You can read Graham's entire blog post here.

Coca told Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch that fees had "never been mentioned."

"We just called to offer support," Coca continued. "How it became about us trying to shut it down is ludicrous, ridiculous and not something we support in any way shape or form."

As previously reported on Patch, Huizar field deputy Zenay Loera said that the responses of gallery owners were the result of comments being taken out of context.

"I think our messages have been taken way out of context," Loera said. "We called because we wanted to see how we could enhance gallery night.  To see if city services could pick up trash, or provide extra parking spaces for bikers. I've been on the phone all morning and there's certainly a disconnect."

owner Josef Bray-Ali, who organizes the Spoke'n'Art Gallery Ride on gallery night, previously told Patch that Huizar's office had called local gallery owners and threatened them with "charges for services."

Bray-Ali later apologized for his comments, admitting he jumped to conclusions after a talking to a local member of the arts community who was upset by a conversation with Huizar's office.

"My quotes were made before I talked with the staffer responsible for the calls," Bray-Ali said. "The bits about the city hitting people up for fees is baseless and untrue."

Despite Huizar's office asserting that they never mentioned fees, Graham's fear of potential costs associated with gallery night may have cost Highland Park a crown jewel in its art scene.

Kevin Spitze, of the said he had booked a showing at MorYork approximately three years ago, and was going to show there for the first time in March of 2012. 

"That gallery is a neighborhood treasure," he said. "MorYork was a place we always admired as very unique. For Graham to offer that front space free of charge for artists was a wonderful service."

clvngodess October 15, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Wonder if it had to do with what's happening with Downtown L.A.'s art walk and the monstrous fees being charged by the city there.
Hpgrrrl October 15, 2011 at 04:06 PM
moryork is always the best gallery on gallery night. If they close, i might not do gallery night at all.
Linda Graveline October 15, 2011 at 04:13 PM
If you read the article again, you'll see that no one intends to charge any fees. (They hand us the answer we want and we STILL think something's wrong.) These are heated times, yes, and there are a lot of emotions, assumptions, misinformation and mistrust, especially related to governmental decisions. We seem to listen for problems and not solutions. It would behoove us all to listen to and repeat what's actually being said and not add or subtract. We can always check in with people who would know the facts, i.e. calling Huizar's office. This whole thing is based on a miscommunication and it would be a sad and large impact on the area if MorYork did in fact close for good due to a simple misunderstanding. I for one sincerely appreciate what Clare has done for the area and everyone I know who visits on NELA art walk nights is deeply moved by the work in his gallery and his personal work/collection. Clare, please do reconsider.
Marino October 15, 2011 at 04:15 PM
In other words Huizar's office is saying that the gallery owners are just suffering from mass hysteria, that's why they are misinterpreting his efforts to "help"? The Nela art walk has done more to elevate Highland Park than all the previous councilmen combined. Moryork and Clare Graham's work in particular is a treasure that we are exceptionally lucky to have in the neighborhood. There aren't many neighborhoods to be that lucky. The only comparison I can think of is Culver City and the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Huizar's staff should do everything possible to convince Mr Graham to reconsider.
anita acosta October 15, 2011 at 04:44 PM
as the owner of La Vida Loca galeria Multicultural Center 5050 York the issue of "fee's" is ludicrous and a misconceived notion of whomever I do not know. Sounds like Mafia time, smile. No one OWNS NELA, we are a community pulling together to make our H.P. area beautiful and desirable for all concerned!!!!!
Linda Graveline October 15, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Ha! "In other words" - and then saying something else - is exactly how this type of miscommunication starts. :) No one said anything about hysteria....
Elizabeth Mines October 16, 2011 at 03:27 AM
NELA Art Walk brings attention and income into the area. It is fun, community building and inspirational. Can't say I've ever seen Mr. Huizar checking it out. Maybe if he did, he would realize the galleries are providing a service and their activities bring revenues to the bars and restaurants. No City services seem to be on hand, unlike the music festival, so I say clear up the misunderstanding and let's move forward. Let people look, admire and buy if they can.
Rob Schraff October 16, 2011 at 03:44 PM
The "miscommunication" is that Clare was told there were "numerous" complaints about illegal and unsafe behavior around MorYork. When he talked to the council office, it turns out there were NO complaints, just the observation of a single CD-14 staffer of unmanaged bicyclists and someone smoking pot. (This wasn't enough of a problem for the staffer to call the cops himself, however.) So maybe no "fees" - just insurance, permits and lawyers. Oh, and making sure councilman Huizar gets adequate credit and photo opportunities for "saving" the event.
Joe Walker October 16, 2011 at 04:01 PM
I gotta say Rob is making a lot of sense here. I just posted this on the other article, excuse the cross-posting.Guys..its always easy to bash the "Man",,fight City Hall, etc. But in the City of LA, whenever private businesses have events they are billed the extra expenses for police and traffic control, etc. Schools pay the same price. Franklin HS pays for police to attend their games, Hollywood Forever Cemetery pays for a half-dozen traffic control officers when they have their Dia De Los Muertos events, etc. These are the fee's that Huizar's office were referring to. Blaming his office for their closing is like blaming Villaraigosa for the decline in retail sales at the Eagle Rock Mall.
Rob Schraff October 16, 2011 at 07:04 PM
See discussion of Marino Pascal and Josef-Bray Ali here for more on the gang who can't shoot straight in CD-14 and how they seemed to have killed the bike ride as well: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nelalist/message/32897 I have to say say this also reminds me of Councilman Huizar's last-minute attempt to extort more from the Autry than had already been secured by the Southwest Society - killing that organization, poisoning the community's relationship with the Autry and its Native American supporters, and costing Highland Park/Mt. Washington an arts and cultural center.
Alberto October 17, 2011 at 03:19 PM
Rob, you're pulling things out of the air. One, why doesn't Patch get Graham on record before running any more fire-stoking articles? Without a quote from him we get things like Rob speaking for him, out of context and incomplete. It seems just as likely that call could have gone, Huizer's Office: "Hey, a staffer saw unmanaged bicycles and someone smoking pot by your place, that seems potentially hazardous and police-inviting; how can we help?" Rob doesn't say they suggested he get special insurance, special permits, and/or lawyers - he just introduces the idea so someone else can run away with it. Irresponsible, man. And the next line is just hateful. Patch, get Graham to comment; Bray-Ali has already apologized for speaking out of turn (though Patch hasn't for running it without checking with anyone, clearly La Vida Loca would have said it wasn't true). Graham is the one closing shop and ditching commitments - let's hear about whether this is true and, if so, are there other/additional reasons behind it?
Alberto October 17, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Rob, did ever read the discussion you point to...? Here's an excerpt: "Huizar's staff convinced Clare to shut down Mor York. There is a HUGE difference between "fees and liability" and"we just want to help". I don't buy Huizar's office's excuse, but my original statement about "calling galleries and charging fees" wasn't accurate." You see how he jumps from "convinced Clare to close MorYork" to "there's a HUGE difference between "fees and liability" and "we just want to help" without providing any hard details between the two sentences? You can go back and read the rest - he doesn't ever say, at all, anywhere, that anyone mentioned "fees and liability" expect to quote Bray-Ali confessing there are to be none. From the closing to the chisme from Bray-Ali to Patch stoking the fire, this all seems very much to me like a yard full of excited chickens. You guys seem to be ready to run with anything. Hey, I've got something for you: I heard that Huizar is really a space alien and he plans to sell York Blvd to China. There you go, have a ball, guys.
Rob Schraff October 17, 2011 at 03:49 PM
I stopped and talked to Clare on Saturday. I stand by my account, and I don't think I am revealing any state secrets or betraying any confidences. I also simply note that Clare and Mr. Bray-Ali have made many contributions to my neighborhood, and the councilman's office seems to be where you can find the chicken's scattering.
David Fonseca (Editor) October 17, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Alberto, both the initial story and this one feature comments from Huizar's office presenting their side of the story. Both Loera and Coca have asserted that fees were never mentioned. We have the most prominent Gallery in Highland Park closing its doors and mentioning fees as the cause. Members of the community want to know why this could be. We spoke to Huizar's office and we spoke to fellow participants in Gallery Night. We got some bad information from a trustworthy source and we made sure to run a followup story when we found that out. I've contacted Clare and Brian Mallman. Still waiting on hearing back from the former. There will be more stories, though, in an effort to clear this all up.
Alberto October 17, 2011 at 05:00 PM
I didn't intend to ever imply you were betraying confidences, only that your account is here-say rather than direct. You don't give any "account", Rob, you only lay innuendo down. Also, you don't simply note that Clare and Bray-Ali have made contributions to Our neighborhood - you never actually say that but, anyway, I know that's how you feel. For the record, I agree that they have and think it's outlandish that Graham issues a short, vague, note indicating that he's closing. You'd hope that, with the strong connection to the community, he'd provide a more detailed, more thoughtful message. Having grown up here in Highland Park I value the positive growth in the community and those people behind them. Whatever Huizar's office did or failed to do, with all the grass roots activity around here, I'd hope to see an article or post by the players involved speaking to what they understood to be threatening or undue pressure. Put it out there directly and let people assist. But rushing out a public threat to shut down followed by an article spreading rumor, followed by innuendo and spite in comment threads does not seem to educated, encourage or empower anyone to DO anything. That's the bigger shame, in my opinion.
adam October 20, 2011 at 07:33 AM
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-huizar-job-20111020,0,3235294.story?obref=obinsite Huizar's office 'suggests' that a business improvement district hire someone other than their first choice...
Marino October 20, 2011 at 11:39 AM
And the standard denial "We did not get involved in any way or form in the selection … of the executive director" .
anita acosta October 25, 2011 at 08:31 AM
This mention of "fees" has blossomed into a full out love hate relationship. From what I can tell/read MorYork is going to close down due to "fees" by city. It would be a terrible shame if MorYork closed down, us being new in the neighborhood hear nothing but great things about MorYork and their tremendous contribution to the NELA art walk. I have not followed this story although it appears to me from what I have read people are using this link to vent instead of just getting to the point. My point is (believe it has been answered) is Huizar thinking/debating whether to begin charging fees to Merchants for NELA art walk. Sounds ludicrous to me, NELA art walk is like the air we breathe, no one owns it. For 10 mos of NELA art walk which I have participated heavily in, a brief odor of pot here and there and a few kids attempting to get "free liquor" are the worse incidents I have observed. Otherwise all are happy, socializing, stores are flourishing - now what could be better for a community than socializing in a civil manner? aaacosta

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