Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Local artist curates exhibit while facing charge


Jeremy Novy
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An artist who's curating an exhibit designed to address homophobic bullying is facing accusations of vandalism and threatening a Bay Area Reporter staffer.

Jeremy Novy, a.k.a. Jeremy Wendtz, is perhaps best known for his stenciled colorful sidewalk koi fish. Recently, he's assembled the show, titled, "A History of Queer Street Art," for the 14th annual National Queer Arts Festival. The Queer Cultural Center is presenting the festival.

The center's website says the street art exhibit, which opens June 4, "sheds light on the constant bullying of queer street artists and depicts the lineage of queers in street art and graffiti."

According to a police report, Novy was arrested by San Francisco police shortly after a May 4, 2010 incident where he allegedly pushed Castro resident Jesse Sanford up against a wall and cracked the glass of Sanford's front door.

The report says that Novy had asked to spend the night at Sanford's home because he was "under the influence of alcohol," but Sanford and a roommate had turned him down, according to the report, a copy of which the B.A.R. obtained. Sanford declined to comment on the incident.

Novy, 31, was booked on charges related to battery, vandalism, and disorderly conduct. The District Attorney's office subsequently charged him only with misdemeanor vandalism.

On May 17, 2010, Novy appeared in San Francisco Superior Court and he was referred to pretrial diversion, which could have led to his case being dismissed. He was ordered to return to court on June 21 for a report on whether he was eligible for the diversion program.

Novy didn't appear at the June hearing, and the court issued a bench warrant for his arrest. Bail was set at $5,000.

Dispute with B.A.R. editor

In another incident, B.A.R. assistant editor Jim Provenzano filed a request for orders to stop harassment with San Francisco Superior Court last Thursday, May 26.

The request stems from a history with Novy that dates to last year. In 2010, B.A.R. general manager Michael Yamashita caught Novy defacing the paper's property and asked him to stop.

In January 2011, Provenzano and Novy were both set to be guests on the cable show Ten Percent. Provenzano requested that Novy not post his work on the B.A.R.'s property.

According to documents that Provenzano filed with the court, Novy "flew into a verbal rage" and said, "I will bomb your office! I know where you are now! I know who you are!" Later that same day, he allegedly spray painted "Everything you did in NYC for queers you fucked up today" on the B.A.R.'s back doors.

In the documents, Provenzano says Novy posted a photo of the graffiti on Facebook, along with the message "Die, motherfuckers, die!!!"

The paper's management filed a request for a restraining order against Novy to protect staff and premises, but because he couldn't be found, a process server's attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Provenzano's recent filing covers only him. According to those documents, postings against Provenzano appeared on Novy's Facebook "wall," including a May 25 message that said, "It's official. Jim Provenzano is closely related to the Jewish Nazi members. A self hater."

Vandalism case continues

On May 20, police arrested Novy on the bench warrant from last June, though police spokesman Lieutenant Troy Dangerfield couldn't tell the B.A.R. exactly what type of incident was involved. Erica Derryck, a spokeswoman for the DA's office, confirmed the arrest, but didn't have details and said there's no new case stemming from it.

In court Friday, May 27, Ariana Downing, an attorney representing Novy, said he hadn't appeared in court last June because he had been under the impression that his case was going to be dismissed.

Judge Donna Alyson Little expressed frustration with Novy's case and said, "I'm not buying what he says." Little discharged Novy's bench warrant and terminated him from pretrial diversion. The next hearing in his case is June 21. Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Hoopes is prosecuting the case.

Novy was served with a copy of Provenzano's request for orders to stop harassment Friday morning when he entered the Hall of Justice. A court date for that case has been set for June 8.

Pam Peniston, the Queer Cultural Center's artistic director, declined an interview request. In response to an email from the B.A.R. , she said she had no comment on Provenzano and Novy's "personal fight." However, she did say, "We commissioned Jeremy to curate an exhibition and he's done a great job with it."

Provenzano questioned why the center is promoting Novy's exhibit that's "fighting homophobia" when he's "clearly inflicted it on many gay people."

Novy's work had been on display at Sweet Inspiration, a Castro neighborhood cafe, but it has been taken down.

Robert Vo, the cafe's curator, had said in an interview when Novy's artwork was still up that, "An artist crosses the line at times, but that's not my issue, per se. Whatever is between him and the law is between him and the law. I have nothing to do with that."

But the work was removed, Vo said, because of complaints about its quality.

Before his hearing Friday, when a B.A.R. reporter introduced himself, Novy said, "Fuck you. You can write that in the paper, too." Outside court, he placed his hand over the reporter's notebook to stop him from taking notes and yelled that the B.A.R. was stalking him, among other complaints.

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