Monday, June 01, 2009

Critics are Everywhere!

Photo by Daron Dean
Last Sunday the St. Augustine Record had an article about the Plaza and the artist constitutional controversy. It was the front page leading story with color visuals covering half of the front page. The story was short and rather than inform, it caused only more confusion to the readers not familiar with the issue. It had Travous (Suvo) quoted as saying the opposite of his stance and other small inconsistencies.

Many of the online comments were uninformed of the laws and past court cases. I am embarrassed for those people who equate art with dog food and fertilizer. It amazes me of the people who write of their opinions as if it were solid fact. The above shell was criticised as "not art" and some suggested that it was a joke. It was not. Here is the story about this shell.

Those people who know downtown will see a man sometimes at the Casa Monica coffee shop who introduces himself as Capt'n John. He is 75 years old, a curmudgeon of sorts. A man with strong opinions. "A lot of people don't like you", he says to me, "and alot like you"( I know that most don't think about it one way or another)

After reading the judges decision that the artists may remain in the plaza, the Capt'n stayed up for two nights decorating shells. He then came to the Plaza and set up a small nicely decorated table with his artistic endeavors proudly displayed. He was embarrassed to come near the other artists displays but we welcomed him over and asked him to join us.

The Capt'n was shy and dismissive about his designed shells ,most of which were a dollar but we noticed that he'd more likely give it away if someone showed any kind of interest. He wasn't there for the money. The "curmudgeon" played a Sinatra cd softly in the background, he did a foxtrot around the Constitucion monument with a few lady tourists, teachers from Cleveland, Ohio. The curmudgeon was smiling all day. The Capt'n would walk over to other tourists to talk to them as they were looking at other artist's works. "Where ya from?", "Like it here?"You guys been to the fort?" Yes, he was annoying as hell to the rest of the artists but no one had told him of the etiquette we exercise when someone is looking at anothers art. So it wasn't his fault. He stayed until midnight, made a few dollars that he doesn't need, but was planning to use the money to make more designs with better material from Michael's. The Capt'n was now an an artist!

He was back again on Sunday and someone showed him the picture of his shell on the front page. The Captain was elated to see it there but said that that shell was one of his lesser works.Then he saw the newstory title in bold four point headline type, "Is It Art?" He was crestfallen, "I'm thinkin about suing em". "Why isn't this art?", It is art isn't it?, he asked. I assured him that it was art and we all have criticisms and gotta learn to ignore it.

He packed up later that day and came over to shake my hand. "I want to thank you" he said "It has been so good bein' out here". I gotta go home .I've looked at those shells again and they are crap, I understand that now. I wish I had talent like you guys. Did you see me dancin' with those ladies yesterday? Frankie always gets em". I'm not sure that I'll be back out here if I can't do better art but thank everybody for havin me out here will you?".

The past two mayors have said in commission meetings that they have seen bad art in the Plaza, implying that some review would be beneficial. Too bad pal, Who do you think you are? Free speech is one thing but your quick dismissal of some artists is purely venal and mean. Life isn't a movie screen for you to make snide comments about the characters. These are real people out there and yes...voters. Joe Boles ,this may be one of the reasons your gallery went under.

We want more "bad art","mediocre art"and "great art" . The "free market" that you all speak of plays such a small part of the reason we do what we do. The capt'n was a good example.The "market" means nothing to him. He was there for different reasons.

You'll find the old Capt'n back again in the Casa Monica coffee shop. I'm not sure if he's a "real" captain, but I do know that he was a "real" artist last weekend.

Greg Travous

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous01 June, 2009

    We love having the Captain around and I'd be proud to own one of his shells! - Kristi