Friday, January 02, 2009

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK - ARTISTS GONE !


Last week the local news paper here, "The St. Augustine Record" reported that recently almost 20,000 dollars had been paid to hired counsel Michael Kahn of Melbourne to prosecute artist Suvo on a single charge of "offering for sale" artwork on St. George Street. Each side gave oral arguments of one half hour before Judge Wendy Berger. Contrary to previous Federal precedents he was found guilty and the fine of 165 dollars remained.
Mr. Kahn submitted his bill and was paid 19, 700 dollars from your tax dollars! This was for prosecution of one city code infraction. Suvo has perhaps a dozen more scheduled for trial along with seven other artists.
On New Years Eve two Art In The Market artists, Scott Raimondo and Dean Quigley were jailed for "offering for sale" artworks in the Plaza De La Constitucion. Undercover officers being paid overtime were used to solicit a price quote from each artist. These two desperate criminals were handcuffed and taken to the St. John's County jail and finally bonded out just moments before midnight, ringing in the New Year, 2009.
According to S.A.P.D. Commander Fricke, the city is "stepping up enforcement" by not only continue issuing 100 dollar citations but will now "take the artists directly to jail" before trial for "violating" ordinance 22-6. Meanwhile, the city permits musicians with tip jars and sellers of counterfeit designer purses to operate without hassle. Clearly this is directed solely at visual artists . City Manager Mr. William ("Art is Foo Foo") Harris and his landlord cronies feel that they are above the law and can use taxpayer funds to harass the artists to "protect" their interests, particularly in the case of Len Cutter who owns four art galleries surrounding the Plaza. He must feel that as an important man in this community he can dictate what takes place in "HIS" front yard, the Plaza De La Constitucion.........the nations oldest public space as stated on a sign near St. George Street.
So, as of New Year's Day 2009, after almost 450 years, you no longer have the ability or right to acquire artwork from the artist vendors of St. Augustine. Big Brother has won......................so far. The First Amendment does not exist in St. Augustine. Thank the artists for a good fight but we have drained our resources and will , fighting for our (and yours) natural rights.
This community should be ashamed, permitting this behaviour by unscrupulous city officials.

12 comments:

  1. What a sad outcome to this situation. The apathy on the part of residents is appaling.

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  2. well i agree artists are gone

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  3. your town is a disgrace. There should be an inestigation into these thugs.Been following this for two years from NYC. Met Suvo once and sorry to see that he has not had success in your tired little burg

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  4. no, no, no, Karl this cannot be over. Tell me it isn't so

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  5. Get into a real gallery or art show

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  6. You got that right , It is truly a lame little burg. I see a familure little weak comment by anonymous again. Put your art in a real gallery. This imbusill still dosn't get it. Who ever you are you weak pathetick wise ass I curse you ....

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  7. "cous" is the fight over?

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  8. Enough with the stigmata, Greg. Try making your "I want to reach the sidewalk audience" claim credible. Go sell legally in front of City Hall where there's a park with a fountain and a tourist train stop.

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  9. The sidewalks in front of city hall is not where our audience is.This is where your employers work. For us the park/plaza de la constitucion is where our artwork reaches people.The higher courts have always stated that this (park) is the "traditional fora" for free speech.

    Artists here will not be "ghettoized" and sent to the "back of the bus"

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  10. Does this mean that ALL artists are banned form selling art in the plaza now? Even if they have/get a permit?

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  11. No permits are issuedother than for a few special events.

    From the city ordinance passed 11-0-07

    "It is unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale, compensation or donation, or rent or offer for rent, goods, wares, merchandise, food stuffs, refreshments, or other kinds of property or services upon the streets, alleys, sidewalks, parks and other public places within historic preservation zoning districts HP-2 and HP-3."

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  12. This whole MESS is like something out of a BAD novel set in a Communist country. It saddens me both as an artist, myself, and also because St. Augustine was my birthplace. I am all about "real galleries" BUT also LOVE the feel of the St. Augustine of bygone days with the art on the streets! How refreshing and inspiring it USED to be. St. Augustine was a beautiful "gallery" of a city once upon a time ago. (But that was when people vision not based on the economics of tax dollars and revenue, but rather, based on what ATTRACTED the same tourists year after year, in the first place! HOW SAD to remove such a legacy from scenic St Augustine.

    What about the FLORIDA HIGHWAYMEN??? (A group of self-taught, predominately black artists from the late 50's and 60's. They sold their humble works from autos along Florida's highways! TODAY THEIR WORKS are highly sought after and prized...in spite of the fact much of it was, in a word primitive. Perhaps the artists in St. Augustine who used to sell in the prohibited areas will one day be grouped together and sought after much like the "highwaymen" are today. Then the city powers-that-be might be forced to rethink their stupid decisions!

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