Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lack of Detail, Mr.Brown

A St.Augustine Record editorial of a few days ago congratulated the city of St.Augustine for coming up with guidelines regarding the acceptance of art gifts (primarily monuments and sculpture) to the city for placement on public property.

Though some of us feel that civil government involving itself in the arts is something to be avoided , some feel that this is a good preemptive approach for future art donations. Not having read the guidelines we must rely on the Record's follows:

"The new rules say that if the city is offered a donation of art in any form and decides to accept it, the city gets all rights of ownership, reproduction, maintenance, storage and even its possible sale. The city also will determine a site and a time for its location. "

Once again, there is this reference to "the city" as, to use a Bushism, the "decider". Is this the City Commission that decides? the so called Cultural Council?", the mayor's mama? Is it the City Manager who has publicly expressed his disdain for "art" ?("Art is foo-foo",actual quote)

Mr.City Attorney....your research is wanting here. The recent Frederick Hart culpture donation certainly does not give the city the donor, nor the dealer the right to reproduce another in similar or smaller versions.The artist's widow Lindy Hart can confirm this for you. There will be a number of similar castings of his sculptures as the next seventy years pass. This is the copyright of the artists estate. No artist of stature will give the reproduction rights simply because someone bought one of the editions. An artist has nothing but his output and images. You will perhaps find lesser known regional and local artists willing to agree to such a proposition but they are giving up a considerable right that should belong to the artist. You wanna pay for this, that's another story.

Since the city has permitted the copyright of the mosaic at the Visitor Information Center to remain with the artist (The Cultural Council president's spouse) perhaps you should revisit that contract.

There is planned a monument/ sculpture dedicated to the "Foot Soldiers" of the 60's Civil Rights movement here in town. It is to be installed appropriately in the Plaza where there were demonstrations and counter demonstrations The sculpture's cost is being borne by a grassroots effort in the community.No city monies are involved. If the artist Owens wishes to assign his rights, it should be to the organisation that paid for the monument. The city is insisting (if our information is correct) on something for nothing.

Take your guidelines and do some more work with respect to the artist and make it consistent.The paper's editorial said"The new art acceptance policy speaks volumes for the City Commission's support of our arts and cultural community" Yes, it does.


  1. This is a outrage!The city officials are so out of touch and have no respect for the arts or artists. There is no way they should own the right to reproduce a piece because they let a sculpture be placed on city or public property. No artist in there right mind will sign there creative rights away unless otherwise stated and paid for.
    The buyer gets the enjoyment of the piece of art but the artist maintains the rights to reproduce it etc.

  2. It reminds me of back when musicians signed away their rights to their music to the first buyer who came along. Most got screwed, with the artist making very little for their work. The savvy ones are the ones who said "No, I will be the one to own my rights."

  3. At least the musicians of the old days were given SOME payment,even if it was miniscule. These guidelines are akin to me gifting a friend with a musical record and the friend insists that they can reproduce it and sell copies at the Flea Market.

    Me thinks that the city is discouraging art gifts