Monday, April 30, 2007

Real Conversations

Asked of Mayor Boles' mother during Uptown Saturday Night Artwalk,"What do you think of the controversy with the artist's in the Plaza?" Response: "I have an opinion but I'm told not to say anything about it."

"That guy just keeps pushing the envelope." Timothy A. Burchfield,Chief Administrative Officer to artist Scott Raimondo, referring to Gregory Travous' (Suvo) assertion of artist's First Amendment Rights vs the city's illegal codes.

"We know where he has hidden that piece of sh&#t Cadillac", St. Augustine Police Patrolman Walter &%%$ski to a friend of Suvo. Suvo's licence plates were removed by the police after he let his insurance premium lapse. Tsk, tsk.

At the Alligator Farm,
Child: Do I smell alligator poop? Dad: Do I hear someone talking dirty talk?Another child, from another family: Mom, something stinks.Mom: We are not going to talk about that.

First Amendment and Tradition in New Orleans

On April 25, a federal judge heard arguments on behalf of a New Orleans consortium of Social Aid & Pleasure clubs, aided by the ACLU, in a lawsuit protesting the city's hiking of police security fees—in some cases, triple or more from pre-Katrina rates—for second-line parades, the regular Sunday events, held September through May, at which members snake through neighborhoods, dancing to brass bands. The suit invokes the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression, claiming that parade permit schemes "effectively tax" such expression. "Should the law not be enjoined," reads the complaint filed in Social Aid & Pleasure Club Task Force v. City of New Orleans, "there is very little doubt that plaintiff's cultural tradition will cease to exist."
"It's a solid, core ACLU issue," says staff attorney Katie Schwartzmann. "We handle freedom of speech cases all the time. But this one is different in that the speech at issue signifies this city and an entire cultural tradition. At some point, I mean, the power to tax is the power to eliminate, right? At some point, if the government can put enough fees and enough obstacles in the way of somebody exercising their First Amendment right, then they're ultimately going to eliminate it."

Second-line parades derive from funeral rituals, transforming mourners into celebrants; the term "second-line" refers not just to up-tempo rhythms signifying spiritual rebirth, but also to the tight-knit communities who follow the musicians, dancing and clapping along. Yet now the very tradition itself appears endangered. For all the ink spilled about post-Katrina New Orleans, surprisingly little has been written about the cultural costs of this ongoing tragedy—what it means for centuries-old rituals and for jazz tradition in general, and what it says about how Americans value our homegrown arts, if we value them at all.

From Village Voice
by Larry Blumenfeld
April 24th, 2007 3:13 PM

Friday, April 27, 2007

For My Father

Of the genesis of birds we know nothing,
save the legend they are descended
from reptiles: flying, snap-jawed lizards
that have somehow taken to air....
But what does it matter anyway how they got up high...?
...We are often far
from home in a dark town, and our griefs
are difficult to translate into a language
understood by others.

...But still, it is morning again, this day.
In the flowering trees
the birds take up their indifferent,elegant cries.
Look around. Perhaps it isn’t too late
to make a fool of yourself again.
Perhaps it isn’t too lateto flap your arms and cry out,
to give one more cracked rendition of your
singular, aspirant song.

Charles Smith: "The Meaning Of Birds"
From "Indistinguishable From The Darkness

Charles Travous 1926 - 2005

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ann McGlade

This is Ann McGlade´s vision of a Chicago street musician. Ann, from Eugene Oregon and St. Augustine ,recently visited with us at the Plaza. We think that her works are fantastic. You can see her exhibit at the Wachovia Bank on King Stret during the month of April

Kimberly Erb,Painter of Romance

Impressionist painter Kimberly Erb, NewPhiladelphia, Ohio

Last weekend the Plaza de la Constitucion was visited by well known artist Kimberly Erb who is on tour. Kimberly filled in a blank calendar weekend with an exhibit in our Plaza with the other artists. Click on to her website at the end of this article. You will see beautiful oils combining imagination and training with emphasis on color, light source and composition .

Kimberly is former Chairperson of Ohio's 18th U.S. Congressional District Art Competition, an honor she's held from 1995 to 2000. She's also judged many other competitions in the Northeast Ohio area. The popularity of Kimberly's oils began in Northeast Ohio and has steadily grown to reach both coasts in the United States, in addition to Canada and several European countries

Accompanying Kimberly was her husband and "roadie", Greg, former mayor of New Philadelphia, Ohio.

We are happy that the Erbs did not witness the police harassment of artists that has occurred in previous weeks and hope that we see them again on one of their tours.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Timucuan Site Found !

Painting by Dean Quigley

The following press release is from our friend David Thundershield:


Please join with Florida-AIM (American Indian Movement) and the American-Indian Right Network (AIRN) of St. Augustine, Fl to help protect a threatened 500-1,000 year old Timucuan Ceremonial-Burial site at Magnolia Avenue, St. Augustine (SJ2457 as listed by State of Florida).The State wants to buy it.

The landowner wants to sell it to the public.

But the City of St. Augustine wants it kept on the tax rolls,and refuses to provide the information and management agreement required by the State acquisition process.

Meantime, Indigenous human remains and sacred, funerary items removed from the site are being held by the City!WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? PLENTY!ACTION

1 : COME SEE THE FILM -- Who Owns the Past? -- Followed by a discussion led by Florida-AIM and the local American-Indian Rights Network of St Augustine.TIME: Sunday, April 22, 2:00 p.m.PLACE: St. Johns County Public Library, 1960 North Ponce de Leon Blvd., St. Augustine, Fl. Free and open to the public.ACTION

2: ATTEND the CITY COMMISSION MTG. on MONDAY APRIL 23, CITY HALL (KING ST./LIGHTNER MUSEUM BLDG.) at 5:00 p.m.Get there early and sign a guest card to speak in support of the resolution for acquisition and City Management of the site. Speak, if you can. If you cannot speak your presence will still help. We may ask you to stand to show our support in numbers.ACTION 3: MAKE a CALL and/or SEND an EMAIL to the city/state officials listed below:

ST. AUGUSTINE MAYOR/CITY COMMISSION:Mayor Joe Boles: (904) 824-4278 - Commissioner George Gardner: (904) 825-3648 - Commissioner Errol Jones: Phone: (904) 819-7589 Commissioner Susan Burk: (904) 829-1960 -tCommissioner Don Crichlow: (904) 824-5785 GOVERNOR/STATE ARCHAEOLOGIST:Governor Charlie Crist: (850) 488-7146 - State Archaeologist Ryan Wheeler: (850) 245-6301 - email:

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Glenda Bailey-Mershon (904) 377-1323 or David Thundershield Queen (904) 461-1147 of the American-Indian Rights Network of St. Augustine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

We Will Not Lie Down!

Not surprisingly, has received messages that the senders choose not to put into the blog. Many are supportive on our Free Speech rights. Some are middle ground like these unsolicited e mails received:

"I am trying to stay neutral on this as I need to make a living. I know this city well, and if one keeps bucking the system they usually lose."

Response: We are uncertain how our struggle affects your ability to make a living. We question why you are trying to stay neutral. If you've got an opinion, express it.

"What are you trying to do get us all kicked out of the Plaza?

Response: Without our efforts you would have been out of the Plaza months ago.

"They've always run things the way that they've wanted to and that's that. These are the people born and raised here.

Response:They also said that it was going to rain today and to not eat one hour before swimming. Three of the five city commissioners are from other communities ,Schenectady, NY., Rockford, Illinois, and North Carolina. Remember, Complacency kills.

Get your picturs (sp) into a gallery like a real artist!"

Response: None deserved

When Artists Were Welcome

From an article in the Conway Daily Sun (N.H.), 4-13 -o7, referencing the White Mountain New Hampshire artist colony at the turn of the century through the 20´s"When they were not here, many went down to St. Augustine, Florida, and took up artists-in-residency there. They still sort of traveled as tourists."The hotels would use that as an attraction, and it was a ready market for the artists. It worked out for both," Belson continued. "I think it was all interrelated and symbiotic. Not just the hotel owners and the artists, but the owners of the railroads — they would put out their little booklets, brochures and guidebooks and use artists' paintings; make them into prints and put them on their maps and such. They were co-promoting each other."Article Link

He Wasn´t Free in St.Augustine

The Shoemaker 22"x 30" gouache and watercolor on paper, 1945

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. Jacob Lawrence and John James Audubon are arguably the most celebrated painters to have ever spent time in St. Augustine.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Canine Art

Self Portrait by Karl the Rottweiler
During my recent incarceration in the St. John's County Animal Shelter(the place smelled GREAT!) I pondered "How can I, a mere dog, help the artists in their First Amendment onslaught of violations from the city of St. Augustine?" It came to me just as I saw them bring in weirdest looking creature, putting it (poodle?) in the next cell. I thought "Gee, apes do it , elephants do it!, even Scott Raimondo does it....Let´s do it, Lets fall in......ok, ok, I will paint and sell to help the other artists!" So I did, Ipainted with the help of the white haired one.
In order to raise funds for legal defense and the continued battle for artist's first Amendment Rights in St. Augustine I have released an 8"x10"edition ( on 120# card stock)of my only visual artwork. It comes with a signed authenticity certificate and my biography.
The laughable city ordinances on art and media says nothing about non human artists
Look for my work soon in the Plaza De La Constitucion or another public place.
By the way, what's with poodles, are they in some sort of weird religious doggy cult?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Art Advocates?

After a 100 dollar fine and a threatened arrest textile artist Sala Leaves the Plaza on 3-31
Workshops, workshops and more workshops
Ask the City or the Cultural Council president "What first time public artist was awarded the 30000 City dollars on a non bid city contract for the Art mosaic at the Visitors Center?" Spouses and friends apparently had priority ,since no experienced public artist ever(it is a specialized field) heard of this opportunity.Call it Public Art if you will , since public monies paid for it.Hide it through contractor payments and no one will ever notice. The public is gullible. Beautiful it may be ,but we hear the tiles that are popping out are making great souvenirs for the kids. This is why you engage an experienced public artist. Durability.
Concerning the harassment and jailing of artists,nary a word is heard from these so called
"Art Advocates", The St. John's County Cultural Council. No place for artists to show? There's a whole world out there..................GET OUT OF YOUR STUDIO !

Genuine First Amendment freedom is seen by many business interests and landlords as a threat. If the average person is allowed to use traditionally public spaces to communicate, advertise or sell their creations, it threatens the business communities monopoly on these basic activities.
While politicians and corporations pay lip service to the ideas of free enterprise, freedom of speech and equal opportunity, they are trying to deny these same rights to the public.
Robert Lederman

Can It Happen Here? Yes!

"We will call it The American Way and they will swallow it...guaranteed!"

Monday, April 02, 2007

First They Came For The Artists

Photo by Elena Hecht
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