Artist Hulbert Waldroup was arrested Friday for installing a sculpture outside a Harlem gallery, purportedly without permission from the gallery's owner. The Jersey City artist put his work "The Gates" — which consists of two 10-foot tall antique iron gates decorated with hand-painted offensive street signs reading, "No blacks, No Jews, No Gay!" among other messages — in front of the Heath Gallery on Tuesday and was arrested when he tried to retrieve it.
Gallery owner Saundra Alexis Heath said that although Waldroup had been invited to show his work in the past, he did not have permission to exhibit "The Gates." "This is not anything we had authorized," she said. "He actually welded this structure to the front banister. We're a landmarked property, so we immediately contacted the police because this is vandalism." Waldroup insists he had permission. "I was invited to display my art and they had me arrested," he noted. "There's no way I'll let them show my work again."
According to the Daily News, Waldroup "has a reputation for courting controversy" for painting former Governor Eliot Spitzer in a series of portraits of prostitutes, and for a controversial memorial mural for Amadou Diallo that includes Ku Klux Klan-hooded police officers, which has become a tourist destination. Police voided Waldroup's arrest and will let the artist and the gallery settle the dispute in civil court.