Thursday, July 31, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Our loss is the village of Cortez Florida's gain. Here is a Sarasota Herald- Tribune story from last Thursday.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
If you've never been arrested, it goes like this. (provided that you do not resist and we definitely do not recommend doing that)
It's Saturday Afternoon - You are handcuffed with your hands behind your back . You wonder what is going to happen to your art and your dog.
You are put into the back seat of a police car and delivered to the County Jail where the cuffs are removed .
You empty your pockets and give over your wallet.
You wait on a metal bench with no back in booking. Do not try to lie down or lean on your elbow even if your back is killing you. You will get a sharp command to "SIT UP!"
A nurse who is busy carrying on a joking conversation about another corrections officer's hangover will ask some cursory questions without ever looking at you. Blood pressure is taken. You mention your aching back and are completely ignored . The hungover officer is sucking oxygen from a clear mask. You think of of Dennis Hopper in the film "Blue Velvet".
You cool your heels on the bench another forty five minutes listening to the banter amongst the officers who are behind a reinforced plate glass window with paper trays slots for documents to be passed and signed. You are invisible. They discuss last weekend's BBQ, the "asshole" over in Putnam County and other idle chatter while they move papers around, stamping and stapling."I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU AGAIN DUDE, SIT UP !" Your sciatica is shooting electric pains down the back of your left leg. You feel some resentment being called "Dude" by someone half your age. You are thinking about your 13 year old dog and wonder how he is faring in custody somewhere.
A guard takes you down the hall where you are fingerprinted and photographed with the traditional front and left side poses. A plastic bracelet is crimped onto your left wrist. On it is your Id with the tiny front view photograph and a bar code.
Next you are put into a sticky "holding cell" that smells of vomit. Another short metal bench. Try to lie down and you are again barked at from the window slot ( NO LYING DOWN !). You ignore the warning since your sciatica is acting up and you are weary.
After an hour has passed you are sent to a stall where you take a brief shower (you are being observed) You change into an issued orange jumpsuit, poly cotton boxer shorts and rubber sandals. Your clothes are put into a brown paper bag.
You are also given a stained plastic covered 2 inch thick mattress , a set of sheets, a toothbrush, a tiny toothpaste tube and a comb. Awkwardly carrying the mattress and items you are taken to a lock down cell on the second floor loggia,semi circled around what looks like a common area for prisoners. A few prisoners are occupying the other cells A few yell out requests to the guard ,"Can I make a phone call?", When is food coming?"etc. The door closes.Your cellmate is a guy named Dave who was charged with stealing a bottle of rum from the liquor store. You immediately sense that it has been sometime since his last shower. Sounds are distorted with reverberating echos bouncing around the cinder block walls.The intercom in each cell makes some sort of human voice sound once in awhile but the exact words are indecipherable.
You will not go anywhere until the next morning since you were arrested on Saturday and the judge will not come in until Sunday. The judge will set your bond and a court date. If you are accustomed to reading before you sleep at night forget it. After reading some of the graffiti scraped on the walls (Sheriff Shoar Sucks! Jesus Loves You) There is not a lot of diversion other than your mind to occupy yourself. A food tray is delivered but you do not eat it keeping in mind that the food contract went to the lowest bidder. You will eat when you get out. You try to sleep worrying about your 13 year old dog.
Sunday Morning. Eighteen hours after your arrest, a garbled scratchy sound comes from the intercom speaker and the gate clicks open. You and five other prisoners are chained at the ankle and handcuffed .You are all strung together with a "belly chain" and you can't help but think of the old Woody Allen monologue where they escape prison as a giant "charm bracelet" (Did we really laugh at that?) Dave is chained next to me and the guy on the other side of Dave is causing trouble cause of the smell. "SHUT THE FUCK UP!", says the guard. He does.The others seem more adept at making our way down the hall. You can't seem to get the group rhythm down and your missteps affect everybody chained to you. You don't care.
After standing around for a half hour ("NO LEANING AGAINST THE WALL!") you and your chain gang buddies are shuffled into a room with a desk in front and five rows of benches (again no backs!) facing the front. The group is told that the judge will be arriving soon and we are not to discuss our case or speak without being addressed by the judge. It you do so you may be removed from the room. The judge enters looking annoyed (It IS Sunday) papers are shuffled three or four others are up front. Two are not in uniform (Public defenders? Prosecutors?) Two sleepy looking tangle haired women prisoners are brought in and placed on the benches in front of us. Looking around at the prisoners you notice something in common. Lots of facial hair and tattoos. You wonder why criminals would want to mark themselves to be so identifiable. One guy seems still a little inebriated and starts spouting off about the unfairness of his situation. He is unchained from the rest of us and taken away.
Cases are called. DUI and domestic violence dominates the charges , after all this is Sunday morning after a full moon Saturday. Writer Raymond Chandler wrote , " ....On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband's necks. Anything can happen...." A few are in for drug possession and you wonder why they don't leave their drugs at home since most have had these charges before.
Your case comes up. The judge is perplexed "This is a city ordinance violation?" A ridiculously small bond is set at 100 dollars. Great! You are confident that your friends will bail you out. You are anxious to get out to find where they have taken your 13 year old dog . He must be in distress!
Eventually you do not get out for another 12 hours. Your stomach is churning not having eaten for a day, Declining the food trays slid under your gate you start imagining what you will eat when you get out. The twenty dollar bill in your wallet can get you a nice meal.......mmm, a burger....no.... a steak!
Finally, you are told to drag your mattress to the front of the common area and are given your clothes. You get dressed and are relieved that you will be going home. "Go down the hall to the last room. "Do not stray from the yellow line!", says the jailer. You enter the room where you are told that they want to swab the inside of your mouth for a DNA sample. "No", you say, "I'm not gonna do that". "OK, THEN YOU'RE GOIN' BACK IN THE CELL AND YOU CAN ROT THERE!," the jailer bellows. Once again you undress and put your clothes in a brown paper bag with your name written on it with a sharpie pen. This time you get no "gift bag" of toothpaste, comb etc. I find out later that DNA samples are taken of all inmates who have prior felonies, of which I have none.
You are finally released at 8:30 pm , Sunday Night. Friends posted bond. They waited hours earlier for your release but finally went home.Their inquiries as to when the release would be is, met with the response ,"I don't know". You have been incarcerated for almost 31 hours.You say, "Hey. I had twenty dollars in my wallet!" The large heavy breathing , obese , angry jailer says, "We took that for administrative expenses." Looking at his name tag you see that his last name is "Pious". You feel robbed.
With no money, not wanting to disturb anyone on a Sunday night, you walk the two miles back to your car and on the windshield you discover a red tag from the police stating that your car will be towed if not removed in 48 hours. It's 10 PM Sunday night and another artist is set up in the Plaza. He loans you some money to get something to eat. Tomorrow you will find out where they took your old dog.
On Monday morning you get your dog back after paying 75 dollars to Animal Control who housed him. You promise him that this will never happen to him again. The animal control people said that he was not happy there and would not eat.You get a "free" leash outta the deal.
Six months later your "unauthorized art" is returned in the courtroom and you are found innocent of the charges. You wonder if you will ever see that twenty dollars that was taken from your wallet.
In addition to this incarceration the artist Suvo has been arrested and jailed on the same charges three more times. Eleven other citations had been issued as well. UPDATE...In May 2009, Federal Judge Marcia Morales Howard ruled against the City of St. Augustine and in favor of the artists in Bates et al VS The City of St. Augustine. All charges were vacated and costs were billed to the City of St. Augustine. Over 100, 00 dollars has been spent by the city in outside legal fees on indefensible unconstitutional ordinances.It is now September of 2010 and the city continues to harass artists by threatening fines and arrest.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
She was ticketed 100 dollars for "offering for sale" her prints and paintings. Later we told her that she might have gotten away with a warning but for the two celestials coupling in her big painting.
We were criticized for covering up the painting as we did above here. So as not to appear censorial we have linked it here without any cover up. Use the back button to return here.
Jacques le Moyne de Morgues may be the most influential artist you've never heard of. His elegant depictions of 16th-century Florida's flora and fauna -- including its native inhabitants and questing imperial visitors -- have made their way into millions of primary-school textbooks and have served, for historians, as the documentary record of a time (so hard to imagine now) before cellphone cameras.CONTINUED
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
From :Lost Colony: The Artists of St. Augustine, 1930-1950 by Robert Wilson Torchia
Other circumstances also prevented the Art Association from fulfilling its potential. Motivated largely by self-interest, St. Augustine's business community generously supported the group, but during the Bonfield years the association's pragmatic values and aesthetic conservatism began to stifle creativity. With few exceptions, the city's art community was unwilling to embrace the abstract expressionism that was de rigueur in more sophisticated northern art colonies, such as Provincetown, where the presence of Hans Hoffman (1880-1966) attracted some of the most famous and progressive American artists of the era. The Art Association's officers were out of step with their time and invariably sought to attract traditionalists, such as Kronberg, Thieme, Wiggins, and Woodward, to serve as magnets for other artists. Many of the paintings produced by the group's artists -- for example, Fritz -- were unabashedly souvenirs for the tourist market, and there was a limit to how long such subjects as historic houses, shrimp boats, and the semitropical landscape could maintain the consumer's interest."
Monday, July 21, 2008
"We make our own rules down here"...former St. Augustine city prosecutor
Election time is coming up here for our city commissioners. We've heard that a couple of the candidates have expressed a desire that the city be more "artist friendly". Time and again we hear of those that feel the artists, musicians, bead stringers, craftspersons etc. could have a juried system set up and a market could be established in a designated public place and perhaps have a lottery for those spaces. Artist friendly...right? No.
We have tried to be clear about our endeavors to stand up for artist's rights as recognized by the Federal courts. Public space has been the traditional forum for freedom of expression in America. Do we believe in "rules"? Of course we do. Reasonable time, place and manner regulations are necessary to maintain an orderly aesthetic. The key word is "Reasonable". Art is speech. Artist's rights are also your rights.
Here we have an interview with Robert Lederman, an advocate for street artists, freedom of speech and open public spaces. Robert sued the city of New York to strike down permit requirements for artists in public spaces. His case went to the Supreme Court and is cited in many free speech cases. Robert explains our stance very succinctly.
Very Soon this issue will be in the National spotlight. Our city will be known as America's Oldest Police State. Watch what is going to happen. Passivity is over. Most of us are members of A.R.T.I.S.T. Artists in N.Y.C., Reno, Nev, Boston, Chicago , Venice Beach, CA are our brothers and sisters in this battle and we communicate. Perhaps you city officials here in St. Augustine should be contacting you counterparts in those cities. Ask em in Reno, Nevada and other cities how their attempts at stifling free speech worked for them. Link.
You have the police and their handcuffs. You have the jails. You have your hired "constitutional expert". Your offers of unacceptable alternative spaces and your wholesale purchases from selected artists in our grooup are seen for what they are...transparent shams.
You continue violate the law and we will do our utmost exposing these gross violations to the public. We may well end up being just one old Rottweiler and a grizzled white haired eccentric but keep sending the cops and we''ll provide the prisoner.(but he'd rather not go)
In preparation of a Federal lawsuit our attorneys have asked (under the Sunshine Law) for materials pertinent to the passage of the November 07 ordinance which bans us from the historic districts. Hopefully this is done in a timely fashion so that we can get on with our day in Federal court. We do not have confidence that we get justice in the St. Johns County court system.
Friday, July 18, 2008
*Eighteen months ago, as he was painting at St.George St and Hypolita, Charles was told by the local St. Augustine police to either pack up or face arrest.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
The Artists In The Market have a recurring discussion amongst us regarding the physical appearance of the tourists passing by. We do not mean to be superficial and some of us certainly may fall into a borderline obese condition. There is a noticeable trend occurring. This year we are seeing less shopping bags and more ice cream cones in the hands of visitors.
An estimated two of every three American adults, and more than one in six children and adolescents are considered overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A survey by the National Center for Health Statistics states that the average man measured 39 inches while the average woman measured 36.5 inches at the waist.
From where we sit we can see ample evidence of this. Remember your teen years? We recall the years when we could and would eat anything in mass quantities. We were like sharks in search of protein. What we did do was burn it off, not on a treadmill but youthful exuberance seemed to keep us lean and hormonal. How is it that we now see teens whose physique resembles a sedentary fifty year old? Sure we rarely see serious acne anymore but we see now see lots of fat kids. Too many Lunchables? Another reason? Pepsico, drug companies, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Mars candy, Coca Cola, Sara Lee are all giving considerable revenue to school districts in return for exclusive placement in the cafeterias. A corporate-dietitian-school triad has been established and the children pay via obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and attention deficit.
Perhaps the regulation minded will come up with "fatty credits". Four trips to the salad bar get you points for a double dip ice cream cone. Imagine the system similar to the environmental "carbon offset" programs. If you choose to go to Outback Steakhouse but have no "fatty credits" available, you can call a commodities exchange, using your credit card to purchase "fatty offsets" from those who have excess offset points(the "skinnies"). If your credit card is maxed and you are short of cash you will have settle for celery stalks and V8 juice. Yes sir! I'll bet that the think tanks are already working on this and the profiteers are dreaming of untold profits in trading in a necessary product......food availability.
Meanwhile, we have here in the nation's oldest city group of bureaucrats who feel that they can control and regulate the basic rights and freedoms our nation was founded upon.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
The existence of Thomas Paine was as important to our Freedoms as Adams . Jefferson and Washington.
"My country is the world, and my religion is to do good."