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