Monday, April 02, 2007

First They Came For The Artists

Photo by Elena Hecht
ARTIST ARRESTED IN PLAZA !
Dog Taken into Custody, Art Confiscated !


Update 4-10 at end of Article
Last Saturday a cadre of armed uniformed St. Augustine Police swept through the Plaza threatening arrest of three artists if they did not pack up and leave the area. Why? The officers had a list of "approved"* visual art items and those vendors cited did not use traditional materials stated in city code. Suvo had previously sent a memo to the City attorney regarding the legitimacy of leather sculpture and tapestry as fully protected First Amendment art. The two city attorneys do not deign to respond to the street artists. Too bad. They could use a good lesson on the first Amendment and another primary lesson on art. Contrary to Mcluhan's maxim, the medium is irrelevant here but it is the message that the artist conveys. These are fully protected artworks under the First Amendment.


Since the artists in question felt intimidated and stopped their display,Suvo decided to display Sala's supposedly banned art amongst his own. He was hadcuffed, his dog Karl was taken in one vehicle, his art in another and he was sent to the St. John's County Jail at 2pm Saturday 3/31. Bond was set and posted the next morning and paid at 2pm, though he was not released until 7:30 PM Sunday night . He missed one of the nicest weekends of the year.Karl was sprung at noon on Monday. The caretakers at animal control say that he was not a happy dog. At 14 he has rarely been away from the side of his master ( he was a certified sevice dog for Parkinson's patients) No one knows where Suvo's art is at this time.

Readers of this blog from other cities and towns.............Where you live,do the police harass citizens in this fashion? We are at a loss as to why they do this to the local artists. We do not make much money (and we pay tax) so the local merchants bottom line cannot be affected by our presence.

To The City......From tourism point of view how do you feel about the fact that the tourists are watching this .........yes we will say it........ Nazi behaviour? Is there any concern that there will be another Celli vs St. Augustine case. This case is cited nationwide by law students when free speech issues arise. The city appeared ridiculously backward on the Gay Pride flag issue.It seems to be policy to violate citizens rights and pay a little bit when they sue. This pattern is noticed by others in the judicial field.

Suvo was asked to go to a recent city council meeting recently to express our concern over harassment. Not particularly eloquent or verbose that evening ( he was feverish and not well at all) he did ask the city to "Just stop it". It did not work and the police have dropped all semblance of civility, referring to a list* that they would not show us. We did see that "Barbie Dolls" is on the list of non approved art. For this, you have two full time attorneys in a town of 13000?

Taking an old man's thirteen year old dog............... confiscating art, handcuffing artists......SHAME ON YOU! City Commissioners , why do you permit this behaviour? Most of you have visited with us and bought art from us. Is this the City you want?





*Update: Judy in the licensing department was very nice and stated today that she knows of no list but is aware that works must be on paper or canvas but sculpture is ok as long as it is "clay sculpture". We asked if stone , glass, or bronze would be approved but Judy said "No, you can only sell sculpture that is made of clay if you want to sell in the Plaza."



Official Comment From City Hall



"Regarding the blog, I am not familiar with it and could not pull it up when I tried yesterday. It does not matter though because I (nor anyone else at city hall) would respond to what is stated on a blog. A blog that could be (I haven't seen it) filled with inaccurate information......... It is a blog, the opinion of others and I have no response on what others have written about the City of St. Augustine."



Kathy DuPont ,Neighborhood Coordinator,Dept. of Public Affairs City of St. Augustine



All we can say,Ms. Dupont,is that you are on our mailing list and someone using your console has been reading Art In The Market. -Karl

24 comments:

  1. Could you possibly give us some email links to the authorities.I'm pointing to the Bright lads that just seem to love to spit on our freedom.

    I think some of us may want to deposit some comments in their in Box. I think it may be a good idea to let them know that people outside of their harassment circle are watching and may want to contribute in the fight to restore The first amendment.

    I guess The Bright lads In St.Augustine have forgotten their town is still part of the United States and the constitution still applies . Yes even to them .

    Yours truly.
    Karl's Friend

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here you are:

    Don Crichlow - Vice Mayor/Commissioner
    Mailing address: 24 Cathedral Place, Suite 300, 32084
    Business phone: 904-824-5785
    Personal Email: crich@aug.com

    Susan Burk - Commissioner
    Call 825-1006

    Errol D. Jones - Commissioner
    Personal Email:
    joneserrol@bellsouth.net
    Call 825-1006

    George Gardner - Commissioner
    Mailing address:
    57 Fullerwood Dr., 32084
    Home phone: 904-825-3648
    Personal Email: gardner@aug.com

    We are told by the Mayor Joe Boles' secy that he does not read his e mail.

    Joseph L. Boles - Mayor/Commissioner

    Mailing address: 19 Riberia St., 32084
    Business phone: 904-824-4278

    ReplyDelete
  3. St. Petersberg03 April, 2007

    We have a Suvo painting purchased on Palm Avenue in Sarasota ten years ago on our honeymoon, Florida.Is there more than one Suvo? It is of an airplane and is almost psychodelic. It wasn't cheap.We never met him but f he was arrested this is very wrong

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  4. YES! this is the SAME SUVO you puchased work form in a gallery in Sarasota. Please, if you love his work, contact any of the city commissioners or mayor and thell them wht you REALLY think. Karl posted the info in the comments on this page.

    Say it loud, say it proud...
    "STOP HARRASSING ARTISTS" !!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I believe that email addresses for employees with the city, i.e., City Attorney Ron Brown or Asst. City Attorney Robin Upchurch consist of the initial of their first name, their entire last name, and the suffix: @ci.st-augustine.fl.us For example, City Attorney Ron Brown's email address would be:
    rbrown@ci.st-augustine.fl.us

    ReplyDelete
  6. THANK YOU, "we the people"! Hopefully others will show support to Suvo, and all the artists, by emailing the city and telling them what they REALLY think!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I sent an email to the comissioners that I had the email address for
    (And by the way thanks Karl for the Addresses )
    and I asked them to pass it on to any of the commissioners that may not have gotten my email.
    I feel that the more people that we can get to email to them. And lets not Be abusive but be direct and to the point
    .
    As Joe Friday would say. 'just the fact's Madam .' I think that if they realize that there are more people that are watching this from outside of their city perhaps it would Clear their thinking a bit more. What I mean is it seems to me like The city of Saint Augustine is just Harassing Suvo. I think it would be good to let them know the more they do this the more it stinks of Harassment.
    the more it stinks the more attention it gets. News papers and TV and first Amendment Activists and the ACLU The whole boat load of people looking at the City. They have to ask the question , Do they want to get under the microscope ? There may be a lot of explaining do and not a lot of good answers. Again they should ask themselves the question.
    Is this the kind of press we want for ST Augustine. Do we want to be known as the city who tries to crush the little guy that the tourists come to see.?
    I will let you know how they answered. So in the meantime start collecting names. Maybe someone out there knows some attorney that would love to engage the city. It could be a great P.R. for that Attorney.
    just a few thoughts.

    David

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh By the way if anyone is interested in the letter I send . let me know and I'll send it to you. Hmmm.... I was just wondering if there are any first Amendment Blogs out there that may be interested in this.
    "Let us not keep silent while our Freedom is slowly being taken" !!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I was there this Saturday, and the police that wrote the tickets and arrested Suvo were there again WATCHING. It seemed like blatant intimidation. I would like to know under whose direction they are following. We can watch homeless sprawled out all over the park and fighting, with no interest from the police or city officials. Yet the Artists are the ones being treated like criminals! What kind of priorities does this city have?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bill and Kathy Myers09 April, 2007

    We saw the arrest of Suvo in The Plaza.We also know this man as a talented and caring individual who has endured harassment and fought the powers that be in St. Augustine.I for one know that he is not doing this for personal gain but a great deal of sacrifice.He is to be applauded.Leave the artists in the Plaza!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I was in the Plaza Saturday also. The arresting office of Suvo was htere with his counter part trying to intimidate SALA. She was set up with a sign "for dispaly only". Meaning she could not sell any of her works there in the plaza. It was my impression that they were just watching SALA...waitng for money to change hands...so they cold swoop in and arrest another artist.

    Please city officails and officers, we are not the enemy. Tourists come to see us, they look for us. We are one of the many attractions to this city.

    Every time I am in the Plaza there are drunken homeless people making vulgar remarks to, not only myself, but, the tourists also. Those dregs of society get less harassment than the innocent artists.

    I can gurantee that the tourists DONT come to the Plaza to see our drunken homeless as an attraction. They come to see US, the upstanding, intelligent and talented artists.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I Always Love The Plaza10 April, 2007

    All I can say is "What the......!?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I got a response to one of my emails and I thought I would share it with you.
    It was rather nice but it didn't really answer the questions I had.
    My questions had more to do with this mystery list of approved art
    and if the art had to be on an approved medium.

    Instead I was told Visual Artists don't need permits in the plaza.
    I was referred to someone else so I shall go to that person and see what happens.

    And by the way lets not forget who pried their cold little fingers off that issue.
    And that could be the reason he seems to be a target.

    I hope the artist realize Suvo has put it All on the line
    not just for him but for all the Artist and I hope they stand by him in his hour of need !!

    I Stay tuned.........

    The following is part of what I got back from the city of St. Augustine.

    Commissioner Gardner asked that I respond to your email of Friday, April 6. The City of St. Augustine was closed on that day, Good Friday.

    Visual artists do not need a permit to display their work in the Plaza, those artists who display paintings, photos, prints and sculptures.

    If you have any questions when you get to the City of St. Augustine (or before) regarding displaying of artwork in areas of the City, contact our Financial Services Center, 50 Bridge St., phone 825.1030.

    Please let me know if I can be of further assistance to you.

    Cathy DuPont

    Cathy DuPont
    Neighborhood Coordinator
    Dept. of Public Affairs
    City of St. Augustine
    904.825.1053

    ReplyDelete
  14. I got another Response from the city .
    I was told by Cathy DuPont that Christle Chrystie is the one who explains who is allowed to display art work in the plaza . there is a big difference in displaying your artwork and selling it. If you have questions about what is allowed and what is not I encourage you to contact this person. I want to know about this rule that the only kind of Sculpture that is allowed is Clay ?


    The following came out of the blog at the bottom the update part. "Judy in the licensing department was very nice and stated today that she knows of no list but is aware that works must be on paper or canvas but sculpture is ok as long as it is "clay sculpture". We asked if stone , glass, or bronze would be approved but Judy said "No, you can only sell sculpture that is made of clay if you want to sell in the Plaza."


    Why don't you join with me and ask her if the city of St. Augustine has changed the definition of Sculpture. Is it to say it is only Sculpture if it is clay ? Is there no such thing as wood , leather, stone , metal and so on. is this all not considered Sculpture anymore. If so Gee whiz I missed the memo !! Something tells me that if one was to ask what court decision this came out of you would have a long silence. just what court ruling has changed the Definition of Sculpture ?. Just my opinion but I think when challenged on issues like this maybe just maybe they will realize just how stupid that statement is. Let me make this Clear I am not calling Judy stupid at all but who ever told her to say that has a few reasoning problems. The email Address Below is for Christle Chrystie , Maybe she can help us understand the double speak of the city.
    cchrystie@ci.st-augustine.fl.us

    ReplyDelete
  15. There is not a word in City Code concerning media except the prohibition for St. George Street. Sec 22-6 Here we are lumped in with street performers. Imagine if the few remaining street performers were give a list of "approved songs".

    Sec. 22-6
    1)Perform or performance means acting, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, mime, magic, dancing, juggling, or the sale of visual art and wares, which means drawings or paintings applied to paper, cardboard, canvas, cloth or to other similar medium when such art is applied to the medium through the use of brush, pastel, crayon, pencil, spray or other similar object, and the creation, display and/or sale of crafts made by hand or otherwise.

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  16. LIARS! they are ALL LAIRS!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. A Note From Suvo
    Look , the City Commissioners, attorneys and licensing people have been asked numerous times to correct obviously vague and illegal ordinances against visual artist's First Amendment rights.Three city attorneys have referred to case law that they were unaware of six months ago. They needed time to "get up to speed".Unfortunately they are skipping over a good portion of the parts that guarantee artists their fundamental rights. Type of media is frankly none of their business. Prints ,Painting, sculpture,photos, CD's, DVD's, Books, Newspapers, Periodicals allare protected and cover a large gamut.'Tis Like telling the street musicians what songs to sing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I don't believe the first amendment reads you have the right to freedom of expression anywhere in his country, except St. George St. or any other area we choose in St. Augustine. The only way to get the city officials to get out of their dicatorial fantasyland is for people to stand up and say "No more!"

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thunder Clap12 April, 2007

    The only way to get the city officials to get out of their dicatorial fantasyland is for people to stand up and say "No more!"
    As for what Anonymous said in the quote Above I say ROCK ON ! I love to see more people are writing in the blog. I hope more people are doing more people are writing to news papers and radio shows and first amendment groups and the city officials as well. I like what Anonymous said about stand up and say no more !! Just how small are we willing our box of freedom to shrink . The borders of our rights are getting smaller. We need to put them on notice.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Here's how we did it in NYC...

    ARTIST VIDEOS
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=artistpres
    ARTIST WEBSITE (current)
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NYCStreetArtists/
    Lederman anti-Giuliani essays from 1994-2001
    http://www.bluecollarpolitics.com/lederman/
    ARTIST WEBSITE (pre 2000)
    contains early posts etc.
    http://www.openair.org/alerts/artist/nyc.html
    NYC VENDING LAWS
    A link to the entire NYC vending law with legal citations of special
    value to street artists.
    http://www.savefile.com/files/519498
    At the page click on the orange button in the lower right hand part of
    the page that says
    NYC Vending Law with legal citations DOWNLOAD
    Be patient, it's a 50 page PDF file.
    NYC street furniture
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NYCstreetfurniture/
    FOR VIDEOS OF ARTIST ARRESTS, CONFISCATIONS and SPEECHES GO TO:
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=artistpres
    Robert Lederman

    ReplyDelete
  21. Well,out of the clear blue they came up to me Thursday, April 3 in the middle of doing a portrait of a 6 year old birthday boy tourist grandson at the corner of Charlotte and Hypolita to interrupt the rapport I had going with this youngster and issued me a citation. No less than two police cars and three policemen stayed for 20 minutes while the boy and his visiting grandparents watched. They said I could be arrested if I set up again. They took a picture of my easel. One of the shopkeepers thought there must have been a major accident. It was embarrassing and humiliating and I kept apologizing to my clients for the unpleasant experience on their vacation. They had returned from a previous trip two years ago when I had done another sibling to have this one done for his birthday. I take alot of pride to give my portrait sitter a pleasant experience during the portrait session and it was upsetting that the police were so disruptive to this with no regard forthe impact on the tourists. What a great birthday memory for this family to bring back to Ohio! Other tourists going down the street on the other side called out: Do you have time for another one?"
    I called out: "Looks like NOT!", pointing to the police officers.

    Quite a shock to the peace and community feeling that's built up over two years on that corner with the local businesses benefitting as I often sent people to the surrounding shops and restaurants.
    Nancy Christensen

    ReplyDelete
  22. This is the first time I read your blog. I am a south Florida street artist,your blog gave me some encouragement to fight for my constitutional right.
    john wang

    chuanwenwang@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. We at the Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center in Chicago are watching your fight. We are fighting for our speech rights in this city by building the Art Patch Project to give the art away wherever it is illegal to sell the art.

    you can find our list of cases and links at art-teez.org/free-speech.htm and you can read about my struggle to sell or give away my art and the art of others at c-drew.com/blog .... I will keep our mailing list informed of your progress. This is the First Amendment. Your success is our success. Your failure is ours as well. We are all connected by law!
    c drew.

    ReplyDelete
  24. We at the Uptown Multi-Cultural Art Center in Chicago are watching your fight. We are fighting for our speech rights in this city by building the Art Patch Project to give the art away wherever it is illegal to sell the art.

    you can find our list of cases and links at art-teez.org/free-speech.htm and you can read about my struggle to sell or give away my art and the art of others at c-drew.com/blog .... I will keep our mailing list informed of your progress. This is the First Amendment. Your success is our success. Your failure is ours as well. We are all connected by law!
    c drew

    ReplyDelete