Friday, June 29, 2007

NYC Settles Art Dispute

NYC this month has settled a federal lawsuit by 18 former Brooklyn College graduate art students and their teacher that charged that the city violated their free speech rights, awarding them $750 each, $42,500 in fees to their three lawyers and issuing a letter of apology. Details of the settlement were released yesterday by Norman Siegel, a lawyer for the students, and by Jonathan Pines, an assistant corporation counsel. “The lesson here is that the government is not the appropriate body to judge the value of art work,” Mr. Siegel said. The suit, filed in district court in Brooklyn last June, claimed that the students’ First Amendment rights were violated and their work damaged last May when their thesis exhibition was ordered closed by the Brooklyn parks commissioner, Julius Spiegel. Mr. Spiegel wrote the letter of apology, after saying at the time that some of the artwork was inappropriate for families. A live rat and a sculpture of a hand holding a penis were in the show, in a World War II Memorial hall near the Brooklyn Bridge. MFA THESIS BLOG

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ken Starr on The Prowl Again

The fellow who wanted all of the titilating info on the private sex life of Bill Clinton is still working to keep our morals in line even if it stifles free speech. Ken Starr represented the school board.

Majority Opinion Delivered today in The Supreme Court

Roberts, C.J.,Thomas, J., & Alito, J. (joined by Kennedy, J.), & Breyer, J. (concurring in judgment in part & dissenting in part)

Dissenting Opinion
Stevens, J. (joined by Souter, J., & Ginsberg, J.)

High court limits student speech in 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' case

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court tightened limits on student speech today, ruling 5-4 against a high school student and his 14-foot-long "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner.

Schools may prohibit student expression that can be interpreted as advocating drug use, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the Court in Morse v. Frederick, 06-278. Continued

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Some Fight Back

Links underlined

A Greensboro, N.C. publication wants street artists. Their wording and descriptions of artists may be a bit dodgy but the intent is to inject life into a struggling downtown.

In Miami Beach the ACLU is taking on the free speech restriction to 12 spots on Lincoln Road, a street smaller than St. Augustine's St.George St. in length
The Tampa ACLU challenges strange and chilling rules for assembly
Some Americans will not tolerate marginalization and will stand up to the illegal actions against our basic freedoms.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Parody Can Be Fun AND Commercial

Copyright Violation Or Parody? Commercial Speech? Courts are sometimes contradictory. Al Yankovich where are you? One opinion

We love it! Does anyone remember the Annie Leibovitz photo of Demi and the Leslie Nielson parody? This was taken to court. Annie has no sense of humor. We wonder if she will go after the producers of the above new movie with Jessica Alba. She was the photog for John and Yoko .The result of The Nielson photo case here.
Images such as Grant Wood's American Gothic almost immediately enter our cultural consciousness and become iconic. Annie Leibovitz will be known for years to come for having remarkable talent but for also being in the right place at the right time.

John Lennon Strawberry Fields Candy

Al Pacino and Yoko Ono recently testified on behalf of the estates of John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, tennis player Arthur Ashe, baseball greats Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig and Mantle.

The issue in New York legislature is over unauthorized use of a celebrity's image, name, voice recordings, perhaps even their uniform number and signature. The protection could last for up to 70 years after the celebrity's death.

The measure will have to walk a line between protecting the rights of estates and charities to cash in on dead celebrities and the free-speech protections of the First Amendment. Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat and lawyer said,"You want to stop the bobble head dolls. You don't want to stop the plays." Our Note: We do not want the visual art impeded(originals permitted, not prints or reproductions) Full Story

Monday, June 11, 2007

Caucasian Women In Art


"If the artists are going to be setting up in different parts of the Plaza we're gonna have to make some rules" City of St. Augustine City Official

"How come I getta hunnert dolla fine for flyin' a sign (panhandling) on Cordova and King and them white kids with the dog don't get bothered?" Porkchop's comments on injustice

"This year we are going to have the "real" Bill Mack visit the gallery." Love Gallery employee referring to last years "ringer impersonator" sent in sculptor Bill Mack's place for a private opening.

"We checked with the City and we can sell jewelry as long as we make it ourselves. We only want people who buy stuff to stop here , so you can leave." Lady crafter to an artist.

"The pope will be coming here for the 450th anniversary of St. Augustine and will be staying at the basilica where they maintain a bedroom for him." Misinformed Red Train Driver

"They are taking Jesus for a walk, honey" Mother explaining the Corpus Christi procession around the Plaza last Sunday

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Remember This?

The Holy Virgin Mary by Chris Ofili
In N.Y.C. during September 1999 then-mayor Rudolph Giuliani made headlines by expressing outrage over the upcoming exhibit Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Giuliani announced that several works in the show were "sick" and "disgusting"; and he was infuriated, in particular, by Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary, a glittering, icon-like painting of an African madonna with a dollop of dried elephant dung near one breast. The painting was not smeared with dung, as some reports had it, and dried elephant dung is not an insulting or blasphemous substance in African culture. Indeed, Ofili used it in works that were clearly respectful, including other works in the Sensation show
Giuliani ordered the Brooklyn Museum to cancel the show. He threatened that if the museum refused, he would freeze funds that the city had already allocated for general operating expenses (the city had not funded Sensation specifically), and would evict the institution from its public premises. On September 28, he stated that taxpayer money should not "be used to support the desecration of important national or religious symbols," and a city press release the same day denounced "an exhibit which besmirches religion and is an insult to the community."
City officials announced that they would withhold the Brooklyn Museum's monthly payment of $497,554, due on October 1, the museum filed a First Amendment lawsuit seeking to stop the retaliation and restore the funds. The city countered with an eviction suit in state court; then argued to the federal judge (unsuccessfully) that she must defer to the state court action.
The Guliani administrations efforts to control "indecent art" was a national story. Many of us shuddered to think that this was an elected leader imposing his "moralistic" (we had already heard of his goomah) taste upon us. Here is a quote from Rudy Giuliani. Do you agree?
"Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do." Elect this man President?!
The City of St. Augustine has three court cases coming up against artists who were not selling artwork that is "approved" LINK LINK(we are not sure who them is) Are they ready to be tagged a backwater southern town with limited ideas about free speech and what an artist may or may not do ?

Portraits by Bruce Bates

On most weekends visitors to the Plaza de La Constitucion are fortunate to have artist Bruce Bates available for commissioned heirloom portraits of your family and loved ones (including pets). Bruce took formal lessons at the Norton School of Art in West Palm Beach and received his Bachelors of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in New York City. As an advertising Art Director in New York during the 80's Bruce created television and print ads for Tropicana, Nabisco and Vogue among others.He was a Creative Director for The Professional Golfers Association creating and producing numerous multimedia projects for the P.G.A. Bruce may be reached in Flagler Beach at 386-986-9554 or e mail at

If you would like one of Bruce's quick caracatures rather than a formal portrait (See Below) come down to the Plaza for a five minute sit.

15 Dollar Portraits

Suvo by artist Bruce Bates