Friday, December 22, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Artist Removed

Just Say No To Rugs, Drugs and Plugs !
How NOT to do secret surveillance
Ok ......, sorry.......,we were just trying to give this photo a cute, clever caption. We couldn´t resist the male pattern baldness spread evenly amongst the local police department.

The St. Augustine police were taping the process of giving Suvo a $100 ticket for displaying his art for sale on St.George Street. You cannot tell by this photo but Suvo has the same "monk´s pate" as the officers. The Center for Krishna Consciousness people (maybe, maybe not ) were selling baseball hats a few feet away but no ticket was issued and they weren´t lucky enough to get on film. Suvo was ordered to move back into the Plaza and did so, joining the geegaws, trinkets, plastic jewelry and various sunglass vendors.

Lawyers and Art

"........... 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"

The above is a description of visual art from the St. Augustine City Code. This is what happens when attorneys and bureaucrats come up with definitions. How many works of art are excluded if this list is used as a guideline? Duchamp´s "Fountain" would have a hard time making the cut here. For that matter, all sculpture is omitted. Here is a good definition of sculpture for our junior assistant City Attorney Robin Upchurch. Sculpture is art that you can walk around.

Art In The Market artist Helena Sala uses fabric, needle and thread as did the studio of Ruebens. Read More.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Illegal Art?

The following post is from a press release by artist Suvo. Suvo will be setting up his exhibit on St. George Street this Saturday. This appears to be illegal according to City Codes. Is it? Stay tuned, kids.

Artists Are Revolting


The Federal Court (Bery vs City of New York . 1996) has determined that the display and sale of visual art (paintings, prints, photographs and sculpture) is protected under the First Amendment, therefore the forum of public parks. streets and sidewalks are open to visual artist´s expression and sale.

In our nations oldest city St. Augustine, former City prosecutor James Whitehouse has told artists. “It doesn’t matter what the law says, we make our own rules.” Simple unobtrusive art displays and sales have been illegally banished from St. George Street. Arrests have been made and artists have been handcuffed. We contest this restriction upon free speech.

Requests have been made to amend the local ordinance to comply with Federal law. These requests have been ignored without a response. This restriction is a phony, citing health and safety hazards. In reality, business interests are considered a higher priority than fundamental guaranteed rights.

We will no longer tolerate a pattern of harassment and infringement of visual artist´s rights. Your rights could be next to be ignored.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hizzoner - Art Lover

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Mayor Stephen Reed (right) accompanied by Commander Richard Pickles (left) of the Harrisburg Police, purchases an artwork from 13 year old painter Marc Sala shown here (center) signing his painting on wood panel. Art In The Market encourages young artists and suggests that the beautiful public spaces of the nation´s oldest city makes a perfect venue.The mayor has held the office of mayor for over 23 years ! Read about his remarkable career here. Mark´s bona fides will be published here shortly.

Recently seen strolling through the Plaza ........British actor Bob Hoskins and another spotting of comedian John Byner with his wife Anne.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Sure this is Florida , though we are about 75 miles from the border of Georgia. It can get cold we can tell you, but when the nation gets an arctic blast we still appreciate the chilling 54 degrees. Some refer to us as living in South Georgia though we never hear of our Valdosta friends as being from North Florida. We believe that this is a dig into a perceived state of mind. It is no longer the 60´s although we´ve seen and heard remnants of the old bigotry but not as often as I did back in my midwestern hometown. Generalizations almost always lie.

That´s our friend David Saunders on his "Conference Bike". He and a gang of kids are passing the Basillica (First and Oldest Parish in America) while in the Xmas parade. David´s bike is an engineering marvel. Made in Germany with a Porshe steering system and dual hydraulic brakes it is a sight around town that brings out the cameras. David has had many interesting visitors on his bike, not celebrities or famous people, just interesting people. David is not impressed with fame (he lived in Manhattan at 33St and 33 Ave near PS 166 so he has seen it all.) Take a ride on David´s Conference Bike. He is not sure what to charge so take advantage. Hey!W e saw these guys sneaking onto St. George Street one late night. That´s the ride that we want.

Art In The Market: Sherri Adriano

Art In The Market: Sherri Adriano

Sherri Adriano

This is the Plaza display of Art In The Market artist Sherri Adriano. Many of Sherri´s images evoke the vastness of the ocean from the beach P.O.V. Whether its surf riding, dogs playing in the beachside foam or palms in silouette against a large sea, Sherri captures a mood that is distinctive. Sherri is also a mural painter and designer specialized in faux finishes. Sherri Adriano´s website is here. You will find her weekends at the Plaza De La Constitucion Artwalk.
Recently we met Vaughn Cochran, artist, fly fisherman and conservationist. Black Fly Outfitters at 11 Aviles Street is an art gallery, fly shop, bookstore and museum. Look Here Vaughn is the current head of Art Galleries Of St. Augustine.

Art In The Market was very much interested in Vaughn´s concern to upgrade the level of items for sale in the Plaza. One item of agreement is that the City could do more to prevent the proliferation of flea market type merchandise. Unlike Visual Art, the city does not have a obligation to mercantile sellers. Perhaps a plan (with a minimum fuss) could be formulated. Art In The Market would also love to help more tourist find Aviles Street (easily the oldest street in North America , excluding native American footpaths ) We have our eyes on an existing pathway from St.George St. through the Plaza to the Arch over the Aviles entrance.

Meet Lorelei. She is our barrista at the Historic Cafe, serving up lattes and bagels just yards away from the Plaza on Cathedral Place. Lorelei is quiet and kinda shy, but we coaxed a smile from her for this photo. It wasn´t difficult.

The Lorelei is a lovely young woman faery who sits on the cliffs above the Rhine River and sings, luring sailors to their deaths in the rocks below. Yes, I can see that. Do not let this get in the way of ordering a great cup of gourmet Italian Roast from Lorelei

Lorelei is a junior at St. Augustine High School.

Let Freedom Ring This Holiday

Our friend Carrie Johnson (The Voice Of Lincolnville) sings Xmas Carols and spirituals for the visitors to the Plaza. Carrie interprets music passed down from the city's earliest Spanish beginnings, through the spirituals of St. Augustine's period as a safe haven for runaway slaves, to the era of the civil rights struggle. Art In The Market loves Carrie though she is ......gasp!........a Republican !

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Scott "The Raker" Raimundo

Scott Raimundo has been a visual artist on St. Augustine steets for over 10 years. Last Sunday, Scott had what someone termed a "mental meltdown". He was seen and heard (loudly) throughout the Plaza screaming over and over "I´M GOING TO RAKE YOU !",I´M GOING TO RAKE YOU ! ,while brandishing a metal easel over his head. The recipient of Raimundo´s tirade was another artist, Suvo. A tourist called the police and things calmed down before they arrived. Art In The Market would like to gently remind vendors and artists that we are highly visible in the Plaza and such behaviour is not good. Scott was reported to say later that " I had been drinking whiskey and eggnog all morning and afternoon". Suvo said " "I´m not sure what set off Scott but he sure got out of the wrong side of the bed that day". According to the St. Augustine Record , Scott had had a similar altercation with the police five years ago when the police had to get him into a headlock. Bystanders suggested to the police that Scott was "mentally disturbed". Such is the nature of many great artists. In his CV sheet Scott claims to have been born the same day that Vincent Van Gogh shot himself. This would make Scott 116 years old! Scott has written in his bio that he is" a visionary, a dreamer and a painter of big thoughts ". Art In The Market agrees, and we want Scott to continue his career and find Vincent´s passion without the traces of mental illness that Van Gogh exhibited. Our thoughts on Suvo.........well.....he is beyond redemption.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Mostly Forgotten

This sculptured face is at the base of what looks like a birdbath at the west end of the Plaza De La Constitucion. This was a pedestal for a statue contributed to St. Augustine by the the Dr. Andrew Anderson family in 1921. The statue was of a girl in a flowing gown standing atop an ornate fountain. Vandals smashed the statue in 1941. The base and fountain dish remain. Anderson was responsible for the sculpted Lions on the bridge, the Ponce statue on the Circle and the flagpole in front of the American Legion. Public Art in those days mainly consisted of monuments to people or events.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The administrative employees of the City of St. Augustine are in a pickle. It has been shown that the City Attorney has been giving innacurate, contradictory and inconsistent legal counsel regarding the First Amendment Rights of visual artists. He has resigned after 15 years with no reason for his departure given to the people. No word on a replacement. The day to day operations are to be done by Asst. City Attorney Robin Upchurch ("Florida Coastal School of Law" alumnus) whose behaviour so far shows a lack of breeding. Courtesy and manners go a long way when working as a public servant. Her comment that our artist friend Suvo "smells of alcohol and is rude"(1) cannot be further from the truth. Perhaps a turpentine odor lingers in his clothes and his straightforward speech may be interpreted as rudeness (we do not know how) but he is polite to the point almost being Canadian.

"Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance but the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms: the one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it." -- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

Isn´t it time to have the visual artists ( original paintings, prints, sculpture and photographs) back on St. George Street? A bad "law" is no law at all.

1. Later,Scott Raimondo told us that the actual statement concerning Suvo was made by Deborah Gibson, the administrative assistant to the City Attorney. Scott misspoke.
Excerpt from The Federal Court decision.

Bery et al v. City of New York / Lederman et al v. City of New York #95-9089].

"The City apparently looks upon visual art as mere "merchandise" lacking in communicative concepts or ideas. Both the court and the City demonstrate an unduly restricted view of the First Amendment and of visual art itself. Such myopic vision not only overlooks case law central to First Amendment jurisprudence but fundamentally misperceives the essence of visual communication and artistic expression. Visual art is as wide ranging in its depiction of ideas, concepts and emotions as any book, treatise, pamphlet or other writing, and is similarly entitled to full First Amendment protection. Indeed, written language is far more constricting because of its many variants--English, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Wolof, Guarani, etc.--among and within each group and because some within each language group are illiterate and cannot comprehend their own written language. The ideas and concepts embodied in visual art have the power to transcend these language limitations and reach beyond a particular language group to both the educated and the illiterate. As the Supreme Court has reminded us, visual images are "a primitive but effective way of communicating ideas ... a shortcut from mind to mind... The City further argues that appellants are free to display their artwork publicly without a license, they simply cannot sell it. These arguments must fail. The sale of protected materials is also protected. See Lakewood v. Plain Dealer Pub. Co., 486 U.S. 750, 756 n. 5 & 768, 108 S.Ct. 2138, 100 L.Ed.2d 771 (1988). "It is well settled that a speaker's rights are not lost merely because compensation is received; a speaker is no less a speaker because he or she is paid to speak..."

You Gotta Be Kidding !

Click on pic to read

As Phony As The "Oldest Schoolhouse"

click on pic to enlarge

Friday, October 27, 2006

Homeless in the Ancient City


"The homeless problem may be lessened as the colder months drive them indoors"

A quote from City Commissioner Errol Jones, St. Augustine City Commission. Mr. Jones is a social worker with the St. Johns County School District and an adjunct professor of sociology at Bethune-Cookman College.

Mr. Jones apparently does not grasp the concept of "homeless"

During a recent City Council meeting a discussion of "the downtown homeless" brought out a number of citizens with their anecdotes on the aggravation of seeing the homeless in the Plaza. Tim Burchfield, Chief Administrative Officer spent most of the time reading USA Today. City Commissioner Susan Burk was attentive but the gum chewing seemed out of place, particularly since the meetings are televised.

Let's give them a chance to come up with some "bandaid" solutions to a societal problem. Anything can help. During the discussion the phrase ,"Let's not reinvent the wheel" was heard three times from two commissioners. Ok fellas let's not come up innovative or progressive programs that might enhance the quality of life for all citizens. Shelved for further discussion.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No Time right now . Read this at the newsstand. Do not buy it.Try to find an arts article. There are none. Our comments later.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Goodbye Mr. Dan

You would see him trudging down King Street with his easel, and a few canvasses tucked precariously under his arms. His name was Dan. His fashion sense was flawed by most standards. Sometimes he would wear a madras plaid shirt with a creased rep striped tie. He would stop, frequently winded after every few hundred feet, on the way to the Cathedral’s side yard where he had permission to sell his artwork after artists were banished from St. George Street. His prints would be leaned against the pedestal of Father Camps, where he would work on his latest painting. When asked why he didn’t display and sell in the Plaza he said, “I don’t do business with the City”, referencing the city’s twenty-five dollar weekly license. He loved word games and puns and was always ready with a joke. Dan was a competent artist of street scenes and landscapes. Finances were always precarious but he loved the process of pigments to canvas. He was doing what he loved. Lately he had been even more short of breath and his breathing was labored. Dan was feeling the effects of 74 years. Coffee shops were his favorite haunts. He could be seen frequently sketching at Mystic Bean and the Barnes and Noble Starbucks. Always happy to see an acquaintance, Dan would invite them to sit and chat and tell them his latest (usually very corny) pun or joke.

Last week, after many years in St.Augustine, Dan sold his old Nissan Sentra, and all of his paintings (for a pittance of their worth) .He boarded a plane bound for Seattle where his divorced son lives. He’s hoping to help his son in his new venture, an auto mechanic shop. After twenty years in St. Augustine he was “looking for a change”. He put on a brave face describing the move as a new adventure but you could sense some fear of an unknown future that awaits him. He wants to be a real grandfather and teach his granddaughter how to look at things from an artist’s point of view.

I had only met him recently and regret that he will be leaving. I cannot recall his last name. He was a street artist of the old school. His paintings could end up in garage sales or they can end up in serious collections. Dan wasn’t a person of any consequence by City Hall standards. That is the nature of these things. St. Augustine city officials seem to regard street artists as nuisances. Those who acquired Dan’s art were not buying a decorator piece from a franchised gallery whose only connection to the artist is a slickly produced brochure. Dan’s collectors will remember a warm, funny old guy in a coffee stained shirt and a well-worn easel. Dan was as much a part of the St. Augustine street scene as the City Gate. Seattle now has Dan and I’m certain that he’ll find a coffee shop there (no kidding…ya think?). He will find friends there because that’s the way he is.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bring Your Own Wine and Cheese

Eight Visual Artists on Display

Friday, September 08, 2006

Slavery , Emerson. and St. Auugustine

In the Plaza there is an open walled structure with twelve pillars. This is called the Old Market. Formerly it was called the Slave Market. We hear time and again that this was never really a slave market. Legit historians and psuedo revisionists claim that the slaves were never traded here but that slaves brought goods to trade or sell for their master . Maybe so, but in 1826 Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journals that he witnessed slave auctions in this very Market that was built when the British took over from Spain. When mentioned to a docent with the Historic Society she replied that "He must've been mistaken". Historian and author,Patricia Griffin who we referenced here before wrote a slim pamphlet in 1995 regarding Emerson's time in St. Augustine. It can be purchased for a dollar at the Old St. Augustine Village.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Spurious Story

The year was 1914. War in Europe was looming and the St. Augustine tourism boom of the previous decades had cooled with the wealthy heading now to Flagler's mega hotels in Palm Beach and Key West. Solicito"Mike"Salvadore had just purchased a Ur-Leica 35 mm camera, the state of the art technology of the time.

Being a forward thinking businessman ,Mike came up with a promotion to enhance the tourist traffic from the north. "Yankees are fascinated with alligators. Let's get the biggest gator out at the farm and make picture postcards." Carriage maker Daniel Pellicer crafted a special "gator chariot" with materials underwritten by the local police department.

A crowd gathered as the gator was carted to the Plaza De La Constitucion , rigged with a rein his massive tail was placed with under the chariot. Mike wore his Sunday best along with a new straw boater from Mason's. The Ur- Leica had a shutter sound that the gator apparently found annoying because as the shutter went off the gator's tail raised the chariot and Mike almost four feet in the air! The gator named "Farouk" took off toward King Street straight down Aviles Ave. to Ponce's Poultry Market ! Farouk had apparently discovered the source of his daily regimen of three chickens. The crowd ran in terror while a few of the local men ran after Farouk. Who knew how fast a gator could run when in the vicinity of unlimited chickens?!

Other than a few scrapes from falling and a semi demolished front room of the market, there was no serious aftermath. The decision to let Farouk devour most of the chickens on ice and the live ones in the front crates was a good one. Very much sated, Farouk fell into an almost comatose slumber and was loaded and transported back to the farm on Anastasia Island.

Mike got a good picture and was a gentleman about the huge bill presented to him by Mr. Ponce. The postcard proved to be popular and is a collector's item today.

Europe Meets the Natives

St. Augustine's 441st Anniversary

On Saturday ,September 2, the country's oldest city celebrates. In 1565 Pedro Menendez and crew reportedly landed in the area near the present day Fountain of Youth Park and Mission Nombre de Dios. A reenactment and Mass will be held on the church grounds where a simulation of the first altar ( above) is located. Activities will be held throughout the day ending with a Concert in the gazebo at the Plaza De La Constitucion. More

Let's not forget that when Menendez arrived here , Chief Seloy and the Timucuan tribe had an already thriving villageof perhaps 1000 residents. More We are not certain but it has been told that Capitan Menendez and his men began staking out property for themselves and accepted from the natives a lodge house for quarters. It took about a year for relationships to reach a breaking point and the Spaniards resettled across the bay to Anastasia island. This has long been considered the first "gated community" in the nation.

There will be no Native American celebrations during this time.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The First and Oldest Public Park in the U.S.

Art in the Park was created for those people who have wandered through the beautiful Plaza here in St. Augustine. Some are local and most are visitors from out of town or country. We do not intend this blog to be a complaint board or a forum for malcontents. The world has huge problems with poverty, war and famine. That said, we gotta voice a complaint regarding the City's administration and maintainance of the Plaza De La Constitucion.

The artists licensing issue is still up in the air and the current Mayor was quoted as saying that fines and enforcement are suspended for now. An election is coming up and I'm certain that no one wants to jump into a fray regarding the 1st Amendment. The City has since gone from micro-managing with two pages of "rules" to completely ignoring the Plaza and all activities that occur there. The Summer Concert Series is an excellent activity and adds to the city's ambience. The results of foot traffic from visitors and locals watching the concerts, the Changing of the Guard and shopping is now being ignored by the city. The grass is going to seed and the mulch is not being replaced leaving bare dirt spots throughout. This is minor and perhaps once someone responsible is aware of the conditions, it will be corrected.

There has been discussion amongst vendors over first Amendment rights to display and sell their wares. To be frank, we've gotta inform you that the first Amendment rights to sell goods in public applies strictly to books, publications, paintings, prints, sculpture and photographs. This has nothing to do with the "definition of art", but is a definition of what means of expression is covered under the freedoms of speech and press. We now have individual vendors taking up two hundred square feet of the Plaza, generators running, spewing noise and exhaust, and jewelry, jewelry, jewelry. None of this has anything to do with an artist's First Amendment rights.

The city has walked away from any sort of management of the Plaza.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Jerry Garcia Artworks

Jerome "Jerry" Garcia
1942 - 1995

Lithographs and Screenprints

Art in The Market now has estate approved images done by Jerry Garcia. You might remember in the mid eighties a line of neckties decorated with Jerry's art were released . They are still sold in high end men's stores

His art is spontaneous and direct. It can argueably be said that before his music, his art is more so an intimate connection with the man behind the myth.

Come take a look some weekend. Take one home.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A coupla cool kids visiting the Ancient City

Friday, July 28, 2006

My Worst Review

by Suvo

Here's the scenario.........I had just finished a new series of artworks that I call Floridiana. I was pleased with the electric palm trees and the vivid , saturated colors that I knew people would love to hang in their homes. I was ready to display and sell my work on Mother's Day Weekend in St. Augustine's Plaza De La Constitucion.

I was led to believe by the City Licensing office that I'm required to register my State Tax ID and purchase a permit from their office. The fee is twenty five dollars a week. Not bad, I thought. But wait ! A further reading of city Code, Section 22-10 indicates that the "sale of art" is considered a" street performance" and a permit is not required. Ok, so I'm lumped in with mimes and singing dogs, this is an even better deal.

"Not so, it doesn't say that", says the assistant City Attorney

"Let's read it together", I offer.

"Get out of my office !" says the lawyer.

Yes, admittedly City Hall is not the place to get legal advice so I go with the written Code 22-10 and forego any permit. No one can deny the written word can they? Can they? Read on.

The display looks great. The black draped table with an easel on either side was simplicity itself. I had a two page list of City rules and complied by filling my flower vase with (yup, flowers.... C'mon.. it was Mother's Day)
"private" water since the rules did not permit us to use the City water faucets.

Uh oh! Here comes a policeman! He looks to be about twenty five years old, with a shaved head and a serious expression. He passes the other vendors and heads straight towards me.

"Do you have a permit?, asks the officer.

"No, Do I need one ?", I say

"I'm giving you a one hundred dollar ticket and you gotta get this stuff outta here right now", he waves his hand toward my display.

"Can we hold off until I go one block to City Hall to straighten this out?", I ask.

He says into his handheld radio. "I need backup here at the Plaza...NOW"

"Hey wait, I'm not being obstinate, I just need clarification on Section 22-10" . I'm whining a little here.

Voice raised a bit, "You got an attitude. If you leave we will confiscate your art, arrest you and impound your dog. There'll be a hefty fee gettin' em back".

Oh Jeez ! Arrest me? Arrest my innocent dog Karl? Hold my art hostage? I relent and try to comply with the five minutes allotted time to clear out. Now we have two police officer clones with shaved skulls and furrowed brow overseeing my evacuation. I'm amazed that after setting up for forty five minutes I have everything crammed back in to the Cadillac within the five minutes given. There is no prize.

I have nine broken panes of glass , one bent frame and I am out of business for the weekend. I'm happy that Mother's Day weekend was a financial sucess for my vendor friends. I wish I coulda been there guys.

U.S. Federal Courts have always permitted art sales on public property. A license or fee cannot be charged. It is a prime First Amendment directive. We do not pay for First Amendment protection. The City of St. Augustine's Code 22-10 inexplicably goes even further by stating that craftspersons and the creation /or sale of goods handmade or otherwise (?) can be done without permit.

A coffee shop conversation a few days later :

"Hey! I seen you downtown. I work downtown too! ", says this rough looking, blue haired, mohawked, multipierced, prison tattooed kid.

"Really, What kind of work do you do?",
I ask

"I'm a sign flyer", he says

" A sign flyer ? ". I have no idea.

"You know", He pulls out a corrugated cardboard scrap with the words... Homeless -
Need Money ..scrawled with a marker

"You can do this here?", I ask incredulously.

"Yeah, I went up to City Hall and they told me that I didn't need a permit or nothin' but I can't be aggressivelike and I gotta stay off St. George Street. Mother's Day was f@&%ing great man! How'd you do?"

I'm told that St. Augustine is near the latitude of Egypt's Great Pyramids and is considered to be an "energy vortex" by some. Maybe somewhere in the universe there is a "Mondo World" where up is down,might is right, and rights are called privileges. Some artists in the oldest park in America may suspect that this place is here in St. Augustine.

It is written in the City Hall files that I cannot sell my art in any St. Augustine public place until May of 2007.

"We still issue permits and collect fees from artists", says the Cty Hall rep.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

E mail links for responses are now more user friendly and does not require membership

A Lively Bunch !

Click on pic for larger image

"All the word's a stage and we are but actors"
, Wm. Shakespeare
"Ok, then where is the audience sitting?", Geo .Carlin

We have the audience right here. This sonambulistic crowd was listening to "Big Island" and their stylings of classic and contemporary Hawaiian music. Let's face it, the most lively piece of music was their rendition of "Tiny Bubbles". Don Ho made women swoon and men fall dead asleep with this one and only mainland Don Ho hit. At least Martin Denny (Ouiet Village) had screeching birds to liven up his music. Contemporary Hawaiian music is much more than ukelele and steel guitar . Try this site.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

This is a photo of City archaeologist Carl Halbirt discussing the trials and triumphs of archaeology in St. Augustine while standing beside an unearthed seventeenth-century well.

Last week the Florida Humanities Council held a teacher' workshop whereby educators learned that St. Augustine was founded 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. St. Augustine is the oldest permanent European settlement in the U.S. and the place where most Western institutions first took root in America.

St. Augustine boasts one of the largest collections of restored and reconstructed colonial architecture in the United States. Our Mayor, George Gardner has been a strong advocate of cultural heritage tourism.

We have spoken to many Europeans visiting our town and we learn that knowledge of St. Augustine is almost non existent. This includes visitors from Spain.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Retro Guy

In the late 1950's Artist/Teamster/Teacher Richard Childs took a new California made Dewey Webbertm foam and fiberglass surfboard and paddled out to meet the waves at Vilano Beach. The teenagers on the beach were impressed that this guy was actually "STANDING ON THE BOARD !". The beach kids banished their "belly boards" to the garage or to little brother. This is when surfing as Duke K. did in Honolulu, began on the North Florida coast.

Today, 72 year old Richard still body surfs on the same beaches. "Since I was well into adulthood when I started surfing in Florida I never got into the 'surf culture'. I thought of surfing as a solitary sport......... still do". Richard says that favorite thing was to surf through the pier pilings at St. Augustine Beach. "They won't let them do that now."he says.

You can find the artist Richard Childs on weekends at the Plaza De La Constitucion. He prefers to exhibit and sell his work in the cooler evening hours. Many times he has come straight from the beach with his hair still damp. Childs sells original framed works and small sculptures somewhere around the gazebo. Stop and look.

Friday, July 14, 2006

¡Somos fregados! We Are Doomed to Hell !

Every now and then some St. Augustine citizens don their 17th century costumes and recreate an event from history. This photo was taken during Drakes Raid in June of 1586. After pillaging the abandoned town , he swiped the garrison's payroll of 10000 ducats along with 14 bronze cannon. No injuries ( other than a few hangovers ) were reported in the latest raid.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ponce De Leon and the Police

Jacob Lawrence, 1917 - 2000 lived at the Ponce De Leon Hotel in 1944 . The hotel had been commandeered by the U.S. Coast Guard for wartime service. Lawrence was a Steward's Mate, the only rank permitted to African Americans. He had already exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York. His Migration of the Negro series had a heavily attended national tour the year before his service. Read More Art historian Robert Wilson Torchia notes that there is no evidence that Lawrence ever visited the St. Augustine Arts Club. It would have been unlikely given the racial attitudes that prevailed in those times. This is 20 years before blacks could order a coke at Woolworth's or stay in an integrated hotel.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

From Our Viewpoint
e have noticed that the artworks that are available in the Plaza are generally the least purchased items bought by tourists. Costume Jewelry seems to be the #1 seller. Sunglasses run a close second. Lots of people are fascinated by magnetic bracelets, chokers and anklets. Those blinking light glow toy things are always sold out. If someone sold Silly String t.m we are certain that the Plaza would be festooned with day glo .................what's a good word.......oh yeah, ........crap! The city has a good rule - No aerosol products or applications. Have you ever watched one of those spray painters who rapidly does those planetary pictures? Look at the crowd. Now there is art that will sell! Elvis on velvet, Bleeding Jesus or fake waterfalls. You can find these at any Flea Market. We aim higher at the Plaza De La Constitucion.

As far as artworks are concerned, scenes of St. Augustine are the most popular. Arguably, the Bridge of Lions at #1. All but artist Suvo specialize in these images. "I have what I call Floridiana works and these are popular, but my Midwest and New York scenes are purchased occaisionally."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Visual Images as Freedom Of Speech

It appears that some in St. Augustine cannot see visual art expression as "free speech". The sale of such visual images is also put into the commercial category by these same people. Without getting into a philosophically abstract discussion, we point out that the first part ( image as speech) can be summed up simply by quoting the age old saying " A picture is worth a thousand words". To convey a thought a photograph or illustration is universal to anyone whose sight is unimpaired. Language is unneccesary if the image is presented. Here is an example.

A Description

"We were at the Plaza De La Constitucion in St. Augustine when we saw this orange colored puppy with a splint on his right rear leg and a large plastic halo type collar around his neck. He was panting and seemed to be enjoying the attention of passerbys."

I speak and read Farsi and do not understand these fifty words in english. Here is another example of the same thing done with AN Image This I understand.

Pegleg Dog

"I'm not gonna wash my face for a week! No, A month!"

From The Plaza

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Has not one of our Ghost Tour people noticed this ancient cedar tree in the eastern portion of the Plaza near the Slave Market? A visit toward sunset when shadows deepen in the summer months reveals a horrific face in the trunk. This old tree has borne witness to much American history.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Here is a modest proposal for artists and vendors in the Plaza De La Constitucion.


1.Artists may not display works that may offend community mores. This includes:

a . No reproductive prints by anyone calling themselves the trademarked name "Painter of Light"

b. No depictions of naked people.

c. Unless licensed , No image can be made of Flagler College, the Lightner Museum or Scott Raimondo.

d. Use of the color mauve is strictly prohibited !

2. Artists must go through a jury process before exhibiting work. This jury shall include. One business man , One biker type, a pre adolescent, a funambulist and a non irritating mime.

3. Permits are issued based upon the astrological sign of your pet dog, parakeet, fish etc. If a pet is not available you may substitute you grandmother' birthdate.

4. Artist's must stay within their assigned area. If there are more artists than spaces available you may exhibit upward ( no more than 15 arial feet ) provided that you have permission of the previous artist to piggyback upon their table , shoulders, chair or partner.

5. Violence against tourists or city officials will not be tolerated. These offenders will be banished for one year to perform community service at the Fountain of Youth ( peacock poop patrol and cleaning rubber Timucuans).

6. Painters are to reply in a civil manner to the remarks " How long did it take you to do that painting?", "You mean for thirty dollars I do not get an original?" " Hey, my three year old can do that ! I should put her to work out here. Haw, Haw".

Blowing bubbles, waving flags ighting firecrackers, carnival type barking, funny looking get ups, crazy eye glasses, funny fake teeth or just general odd behavior will be constued as "attention getting" and therefore prohibited.

8. These rules shall be considered in effect unless we change them. Notice will be given two weeks after changes are enforced. Please check with City Hall on an hourly basis.

Featured Artist

That's Elena with her outdoor gallery of Art photos depicting scenes of St. Augustine. Her work is exceptional and inspirational. "I want my clients to have the best framing, with museum mats and precision mounting", says Elena. It is a pleasure having an artist of Elena's caliber with us in the Plaza.


SUVO's New Work "Jazz In The Gazebo" 18"x24" Mixed Media on artboard $650
11" x 14" giclee on acid free substrate $35

A Good Time Had By All !

Click pic on to enlarge

Friday, June 30, 2006

Cheers for the City !

We have previously mentioned the Thursday night concerts in the Plaza. Imagine twilight skies, Spanish moss garlands in the ancient trees and some knockout music from professional area musicians. The City is the prime sponsor and Director of Public Affairs, Paul Williamson ( see his lookalike, actor Paul Dooley) oversees all of these events. He is our own Ed Sullivan (if you are over 50) or Carson Daley ( for the twenty somethings)

Last night Bob and Jolene's Friends of Mine Band performed and they were in fine form. We want to see them again so will probably look up their schedule and actually buy a drink or two to hear them play. Last week's Mike Hart Band with their Randy Newman type compositions and the talking wah wah guitar ( think Peter Frampton) were equal hits.

July 4 will have The "All Star Band" ( not the one with Ringo Starr) playing Big Band music, so bring the old folks ! The Bridge of Lions Part 2 will close so that we can all watch fireworks over the Mantanzas River. We are so lucky to be here! Hello to everyone back in Peoria ! Fireworks at Smitty's Salvage Yard just doesn't come up to this does it?

Has anyone heard that the old coquina seawall is in danger of being demolished for a modern seawall? Historian Daid Nolan writes that it WILL be replaced. That would be a shame. We need more info and will inform our gentle readers. We now have 400 subscribers who have walked throug the Plaza within the past six months.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Random Stuff

We've always suspected that celebrity was a false illusion. These disembodied heads, spotted in a shop window near the Plaza only bolsters that belief.

Our good friend, artist Suvo is back after a suspension by the city for not buying the required (so they say) permits. The City is working on a new ordinance for street visual artists. A nearby copy of the U.S. Constitution would be a helpful reference when drafting a new code.

Tonight is another concert in the Plaza. To learn more about the concert series go HERE.

A. I.T.M. took a walk down St. George St. yesterday. Our cultural and historical heritage is maintained at a few government funded locations but the general impression is one of being in a mall. Birkenstock, factory art and phony , cutesy "pirate" gear ("Pirates Girls Have Big Chests") can all be found on St. George. At least the pirate near the Columbia Restaurant has a real pegleg. We know him in private life and yes, he is a real "scalawag".

Art In The Market advocates the right balance between economic development, sustainable tourism and heritage conservation which includes the prevention of undesired development. Picture Sarasota or Naples Florida. It seems that those communities have evolved into a haven for the wealthy to situate their second or third homes. Residents and working people get short shrift in terms of quality of life. The service jobs that the wealthy require are traditionally low wage positions. St. Augustine is in danger of becoming such a community if unbridled development continues. READ

Good intentions aside, the micromanagement of visual artists in the Plaza is not the answer to creating a desireable park. Colonial Williamsburg is an example of Cultural Heritage Tourism and complete control. Do we want another one? The "Disneyfication" of history may not be the answer. Do we want St. Augustine simply to be a laboratory or classroom for elementary school daytrips? We have much more here in St. Augustine. The contemporary and the colonial can co exist. We would like more nighttime adult diversions in the old quarter. Sangria was invented in Spain. We call for wine and song for adults. Give us folklorico in the form of flamenco and fiestas. Get a babysitter! "But what about the children ?!".This recent trend of "child worship" has baffled many of us. Even Dr.Benjamin Spock and Maria Montessori would not approve. Going to Key West? Sloppy Joe's has a kiddie Daiquiri and a Hemingway Balloon for Junior. No kidding!.

A final note on a conversation held with a local St. Gerge St. merchant who felt that "every dollar spent by a tourist in the low overhead Plaza was a dollar not going to St. George Street businesses". "We have so much invested in rent and need to get every dollar we can to make payroll, replace inventory etc." Perhaps, we say, they should hold this discussion with the landlord who seems to be getting high rents that may not be justified by the gross receipts. There always seems to be another wannabe merchant waiting to gamble that they can succeed where others cannot. The landlord benefits particularly when the lease states that all improvements and fixtures remain after the tenant has left. Bathroom Boutiques? Solar clothing that changes color in the sunlight? Another high end"factory art" gallery? Which one will be the first to go?

Friday, June 16, 2006

This monument in Plaza de la Constitucion was erected in 1812 to celebrate the first written Spanish Constitution. King Ferdinand IV was crowned in 1814 with a promise to uphold the constitution. Not long after his coronation, Ferdinand and the Catholic Church repudiated the Constitution and began ferocious reprisals. In 1823 The Battle of Trocadero eliminated the liberal threat and Ferdinand prevailed with absolute monarchy. As historian Howard Zinn said, "Politicians lie".

News traveled slowly to St. Augustine in those days. The residents here were of a liberal bent and these monuments were by Royal decree to be destroyed. "Hola! Tell the stinkin' King that we worked hard building this monument and we're gonna to keep it , Senor ", said the St. Augustine residents ( loosely paraphrased) Fortunately for the residents, the Spanish Monarchy paid little attention to the albatross colony of Florida. The first time a Spanish King arrived in St. Augustine was five years ago with a visit from King Juan Carlos. All of the "Swells" were out in force. No one mentioned great great grandfather's duplicity. Besides ,he is perhaps still stinging over Generalissimo Franco. We are polite with our guests. SEE PICS Take a look at Florida's own , Katherine Harris toadying up to everyone in sight.

In 1821 St. Augustine became the capital of East Florida with Indian hater Andrew Jackson as governor. If you click onto the photo you can see that the "Constitucion" has been crudely changed to "Constitution." This is done on all four sides. The De La had to remain probably because the rough chisel was not sufficient to change it to "..OF The...". Exactly when it was done we do not know. This could have been done last week for all we know. This could have been the work of Minutemen.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bon Voyage !

Kate Merrick,the portrait artist, ( she does wonderful linocuts and landscapes as well) keeps busy creating excellent renditions of visitors to the Plaza. Kate will be leaving this month for an extended stay in the Dominican Republic with her daughter, son in law and most importantly...her grandson! We will miss Kate and the Plaza will be lacking one of best. Good luck Kate! Bring back some inspiration. Kate Merrick's website link
Every Thusday throughout summer, from 7-9 PM, the City sponsors a concert in the Plaza de la Constitucion. Last Thursday the popular local group, the Driftwoods played their smooth and elegant version of Bluegrass both classic ("I'll Fly Away"and contemporary. We were impressed. They were reminiscent of the defunct "Gin Blossoms". Next week get out the ukeleles and slack key guitars because bra there will be da kine Hawaiian style music ! We wanna hear Drop Baby !