"Topless Papparazzo" Holly Van Voast Wins $40,000 Settlement Against New York City and the NYPD

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Image via LensJockey, Van Voast's Flickr portfolio
Holly Van Voast, in character.
In 2011 and 2012, Holly Van Voast and her bare breasts saw a lot of the city together. Van Voast, an artist and photographer, took on the persona of "Harvey Van Toast," a "topless paparazzo" who wore a pencil-thin mustache, sometimes a newsy sort of fedora, and not much in the way of shirt. She appeared in character on the D train up to the Bronx, in Grand Central, outside a tony Upper East Side elementary school (where, she says, an enraged helicopter mom grabbed her camera and smashed it), and once in criminal court, answering a citation she got during her walk through Grand Central. In the courtroom, she promptly took her shirt off, to the shock, displeasure, and probably near-heart-failure of her almost 90-year-old court-appointed attorney.

And of course, Harvey showed up frequently to snap paparazzi-style photos of movie stars, catching a nonplussed-looking Johnny Depp peering at her over the top of a car, a baffled Bill Cosby, and a delighted-seeming Robert Downey Jr. Van Voast meant it as pure art, she says, a sort of gonzo performance that would draw attention to both her and an underground group of "punk drag" performers she frequently photographed. Instead, over and over, she got arrested.

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Artist Invites You to Go Rooftop Camping, or Bivouacking, in the City

Categories: Art Stunts

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Mark Römisch/bivouacnyc.com
For the legions of city-dwellers without air-conditioning, summer in a cramped New York apartment means lethargy in front of an oscillating fan, ice cubes, and a uniform of underwear and not much else. In the days of packed tenement housing, New Yorkers even took to sleeping on the roofs or the fire escape, which one New York Times trend piece from 1908 described as the "tenement plan" or "roof habit."

At least one Brooklyn-based artist is trying to bring the roof habit back. This weekend, artist Thomas Stevenson will be hosting "Bivouac," a seven-tent camping installation on an undisclosed city rooftop.


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Cooper Union Students Perform Leaked Transcript of Trustee Meeting

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@freecooperunion
In pure Cooper Union fashion, on Thursday night the students occupying president Jamshed Bharucha's office held a performative reading of the 41-page board of trustee transcript leaked by the Voice that same day. While students played the roles of trustees, president Bharucha's lines were programmed using a computerized text-to-speech tool. Students also recorded excerpts from the show via Vine, which you can check out after the jump.

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The Anatomy Of A Lap Dance: How Rubbing Your Ass On People Could Soon Be "Art" In New York

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www.witterwings.com
Art?
Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," Michelangelo's "David," and a lap dance from some stripper named "Cinnamon" could all soon have something in common -- each could be considered "art" here in the Empire State.

Let's rephrase that: they could all be tax-exempt "art" in the Empire State.

New York's highest court is scheduled today to hear arguments about whether lap dances should be considered an "art" form worthy of tax-exempt status under state law.

The case appears to be little more than a creative way for an Upstate strip club to get out of paying taxes. Yet, it's made its way all the way to Court of Appeals.

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City OKs Another Art Installation Despite Artist-Vendor Policy (UPDATE)

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As we have pointed out before, the Department of Parks and Recreation is totally down with traffic-blocking art installations but not cool with unregulated artist-vendors because said vendors allegedly block traffic and mess with public spaces' aesthetic.

Yea, we are confused by the Department's approach, too.

And we're learning that another aesthetic-altering art installation is planned for the High Line.

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City: Traffic-Blocking Art Installations OK, Park Artist-Vendors Not OK

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Yesterday, the Voice reported on several developments in the ongoing park artist controversy: namely, that the Department of Parks and Recreation doesn't seem to have a problem with street creatives in public spaces as long as they're picked by the City.

This is confusing, of course, because one of the City's main arguments against unregulated park artist-vendors is that they mess up an area's aesthetic and foster congestion. So, we wanted to know: How can the Department make this claim while simultaneously greenlighting, say, an above-ground living room around the Columbus Circle monument?

Well, we got an answer from the City's legal team.

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So What Is The City's Policy on Park Artists?

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Though the Department of Parks and Recreation isn't facing any additional legal drama today, several news items have recently surfaced that put to question some of the city's main claims against artists.

So what's going on now?

Well, when we attended a hearing on this issue in July, City Attorney Sheryl Neufeld said that the Department has the right to regulate park artists.

She argued that the City is acting constitutionally, claiming that municipalities can make rules to preserve the aesthetic of parks, control crowds, and make sure everybody can enjoy public spaces.

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New York City Hit With Another Park Artist Lawsuit, Allegations of B.S. Arrest

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Another day, another report of legal drama between New York artists and City admins, it seems.

Here's what's going on today: as we reported just yesterday, there are currently two lawsuits -- one filed at the state level, the other filed at the federal level -- which will basically decide whether New York's artist vendors have a right to freely sell their wares in the City's parks.

It's a convoluted topic -- with significant Constitutional implications -- and it's been debated off and on in court pretty much since the Giuliani administration.

(Read all the Voice's past coverage here.)

Anyway, today brings a THIRD lawsuit to the table.

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Parks and Recreation Hits Back At Artists (UPDATE)

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New court docs suggest that the City wants to prevent a key artist advocate from getting involved in a case that might decide the fate of New York's creatives.

So what's going on?

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Legal Controversy Over New York's Park Artists Continues With Complications (UPDATE)

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As the years-long legal battle over New York's park artists crawls closer toward a conclusion, their main representative has submitted yet another court filing accusing the city of treating them differently from performers, violating the U.S. Constitution, and misconstruing facts.

In a request to intervene and affadavit filed today, which were both furnished to the Voice, artist advocate and ARTIST President Robert Lederman wrote Hon. Milton Tingling, claiming that the city has falsified evidence in artist vendor-oriented cases.

But why did Lederman write to Tingling? After all, U.S. Judge Richard Sullivan did hold a hearing on Friday in which Lederman's lawyer made pretty much the same allegations.

Well, it's kinda complicated. We'll explain...

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