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."
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."