Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Equal Treatment?

A picture is considered "speech" by the courts, honoring the First Amendment. Here in St. Augustine artists are considered a "safety hazard" impeding citizens and blocking sidewalks (we do not) The picture shows recent happenings in the Plaza of the Constitution in St. Augustine,Florida. One of these protests or events was fined 100 dollars based upon the ordinance that states the artist's displays or protests are considered a safety hazard. Religious groups and city sanctioned events are treated differently.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fine Art Found In Plaza Trash Bin!

We are grateful to Plaza bench sitter, "Catfish" for the retrieval
"This isn't right" said Catfish trying to flatten out a crumpled sheet of official SAPD paper. "They shouldn't do this!" Catfish's tone was indignant though Catfish was happy that,in the trashbin, along with a pencil drawing, he also found a parking timeslip with another hour left on it. He was happily indignant, a trait that I've never witnessed in a "normal" human. "I can get a buck for this if I move fast enough!" Now, we know that Catfish's "move fast" mode is about 1/4 the speed of an average citizen. This was Catfish's way of asking me for a dollar. The parking slip had what might be chocolate (blood?) smeared on part of it.We gave him a dollar,though parking is free on Sundays. He even got to keep the parking slip. We got the artwork for another dollar.Note: If Catfish ever tries to hand something to you.....first, always check out what it might be.
Actually, the officers here are writing a 100 dollar ticket for artist Kate Merrick (Bates, Merrick, Childs, Hecht vs. City of St. Augustine) for setting up her protest display in the Plaza. (more on that later)Is this juvenile of us? Yes, it is.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Moon Watching by Suvo 18"x24" mixed media on canvas

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We Are Not Performers!

The newest unconstitutional ordinance against artists was passed in St. Augustine on Sept 14. The ordinance has yet to be published online. It has language that prohibits not only displays and sales of artwork on public property but also "the creation of artwork"within fifty feet of St. George Street and the entire Plaza and surrounding streets. This is the handiwork of "constitutional expert", attorney Michael Kahn of Melbourne Florida. Kahn gave the city commissioners two answers to the question posed by Commissioner Freeman, "Can an artist set up an easel and paint?" First he said directly,"No they cannot" and then he backpedaled and said that they can if it is not a "performance". Remember this.........the illegal ordinance states that no "artistry" is permitted and adds "creation of art" as banned. This is the essence of vague. A police officer now must decide whether the painter is "performing" or just painting. For this you paid the man Kahn 60 thousand taxpayer dollars? We believe that even city attorney Smilin' Ronny Brown could craft a clearer ordinance than this one without going beyond his salary.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Can't Get To Dick Blick!

Somewhere Inside of Florida
So what do you do when you are "in the bush" and you are out of paints? Do what Bartram or Audubon did. Make your own. This frog was painted with the residue of boiled purple milkweed leaves for the green and sumac leaves (not poison sumac for God's sake!) for the black. Allow the material to steep overnight and strain it through cloth the next day. Mix in four parts cold water and one part vinegar for a fixative. It is important not to stand downwind as this does not smell like grandma's potpourri. Another lesson learned......wear rubber gloves when you are straining. My hands now look like they are in the first stages of decomposition......Zombie Hands!
Next I might look for wild papyrus and create a substrate on which to paint. Or, if I can wrestle down one of these feral boars I see evidence of, maybe I can make some really good brushes from the bristle. If you know me, you know that this is not likely. I'm not really a "back to nature" kind of guy. But it's fine for a rare week or so every few years. Now I'm thinking of a pork BBQ sandwich with cole slaw.I saw a Dairy Queen a few miles back and that's where Karl and I are headed,..... with my black hands.
Suvo .......... somewhere near a creek inside Florida

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Takin A Break

Karl Needs A Rest

Karl and Suvo are goin' to the "jungle" for a week . Maybe we'll look for the elusive ghost orchid. As many of you know, Florida is more than beaches and palm trees. We have an interior that has it's own character. So were "goin' native" to get ourselves together. I'm an old dog and I wanna splash in some fresh water springs and bark at a manatee before I leave y'all. Suvo will make cheese grits and buy some "bald peanuts" and I'll keep him company and eat chucksteak. We will post again in about a week. Meanwhile, we made a mix tape for you.......click on the old radio on the right.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

No Private Sidewalks in St. Pete

On October 1st, the St. Petersburg City Council voted against a plan to privatize the public sidewalk in front of the BayWalk downtown shopping center, marking a victory for civil liberties advocates who have worked to protect the time-honored right to free speech in the town square.

Part of the proposed "City of St. Petersburg BayWalk Revitalization Plan," the donation of the sidewalk to the owner of the complex was intended to allow management to exclude people who engage in First Amendment activities such as free assembly and free speech. In August, the ACLU of Florida wrote a letter to Mayor Rick Baker and City Council Chair Jeff Danner, urging them to oppose the proposed donation, pointing out that it would not only be against the best interests of citizens, but it would not accomplish the stated goal of excluding people who use the sidewalk for expressive purposes because of constitutional precedent making city sidewalks traditional public forums.

Showing that the public was not behind the proposal, over 150 people attended Thursday's City Council meeting to voice their opposition to giving away public property and stifling St. Petersburg residents' free speech rights. "We are very happy that the council rejected the idea that the First Amendment is bad for business," said ACLU of Florida Senior Attorney and Religious Freedom Project Director Glenn Katon. "Free speech is far too precious to give away in order to try to drum up business at a struggling shopping center. There are plenty of things the City can do to improve the BayWalk area without trampling on the Constitution."

The decision came at the conclusion of almost four hours of public commentary by local citizens, proving the efforts of residents to protect their constitutional rights can pay off. As the largest civil liberties organization in the state, the ACLU opposed the plan for both practical and legal reasons and strongly supported local residents in their resistance against this proposal. Among those who spoke eloquently against the proposal were Pinellas chapter members Ray Arsenault, Mark Kamleiter, Dwight Lawton, and Nigel Watson.

Not everyone was in support of the ACLU's position. A St. Petersburg Times column after the vote advocated for business interests and against the Constitution, stating: "When BayWalk is boarded up and completes its transformation from downtown St. Petersburg's jewel to its biggest eyesore, we will know whom to blame," referring to the four Council members who voted against the sidewalk giveaway.

"It is just plain wrong to assume that BayWalk's woes are due to a few protestors who have used the area to voice their opinion over the years." added Katon. The worst economic crisis of the last 50 years and acknowledged mismanagement of the complex are the more likely culprits. In fact, there were about a dozen protests at BayWalk in 2009 and only a couple during 2009. "Free speech is not what is hampering the success of BayWalk. There haven't been protests for some time and yet the shopping complex is not bustling with shoppers," Katon noted.

Glenn Katon,Senior Attorney and Director, Religious Freedom Project,American Civil Liberties Union of Florida

Monday, October 05, 2009

Fundraising Idea

Since we found out that the St. Augustine Historical Society has sold off 3 million dollars of Heade sketches we have come up with another fundraising idea for the struggling organization. That is, unless the historical folks are already chipping away at our buildings and selling on the internet.

These two items, one a piece of coquina reputedly from the fort and the other a chunk from the slave market are listed here for quite a bit of money though the prices have recently been reduced to $275. Take a walk around the old Government House (dating back all the way back to 1937) and you could pick up maybe a thousand dollars of stones. Don't do it! They will be watching you! Why, who would sell off this town little bits at a time? Unthinkable!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Heade Sale Redux

This Sunday's local paper was full of stories about a two year old art sale held secretly by the St. Augustine Historical Society. The Record seems a little slow on the uptake since we reported this story here two months ago. Everyone seems shocked! Two months from now no one will give this a thought.

Atheist Artist and The Saved Woman

"Have you heard that Jesus has plans for you?", said this 40 something farmer's wife looking woman.
"I'm sorry ? Beezer has fans for me, where?",I replied.
"Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour loves you and has plans for your eternal life"
"Oh, sorry, I misunderstood what you said. That's nice, thank you very much!", looking back down at my sketchpad.
"May I sit down and tell you his plans?"
"Actually, I'm working here.",I said
"It won't take but a minute."
"His plans will only take a minute?" I said thinking, 'That's not good !'
"Yes, he loves you and wants you to share in his kingdom."
"Uh.....That's nice, but no, I'm kinda busy."
She sits down anyway.
"Look ,I'm trying to be nice and hey, I really don't think that YOU know about his plans for me."
"His plans are for all of mankind"
"How about Karl here?",I said. pointing to the old dog.
"All of creation belongs to Jesus."
"Please, I'm working right now. I can hear your preacher on the sound system from here even though we are a block from the Plaza! Can you go save someone else?"
"May I leave this booklet with you that explains our mission?"
"Uh, sure ,Thank you."
"Ok, Remember that Jesus loves you and have a blessed day."
She gets up and goes her way.
I waited about 30 seconds before I tossed her Christian comic book in the trash receptacle.
I thought, "Why is it that the artists are banished from the Plaza (for safety reasons) while the Jesus Festival can take up half of the place and bellow fire and brimstone speeches, homophobic homilies and blast Christian Rock music?" Last week another church held a rally in the Plaza complete with a big screen TV. Many souls were abducted and saved by the pamphleteers canvassing the old Plaza
Well, we are in the Bible belt here aren't we? The Christian proselytizers have the upper hand with the city commission when it comes to the First Amendment.
As Former city prosecutor Jim Whitehouse told me, "We don't care what the laws says, we do things our own way here".

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Save the Artists!

Do you see where we are going with this?

Radio Days

First Coast Connect's, Melissa Ross

Today's First Coast Connect on Jacksonville's NPR affiliate, WJCT 89.9FM with artist Greg Travous (Suvo) and atty Michael Kahn had the call in lines backed up! Host Melissa Ross was busy punching phone buttons while Suvo was working the "cough"button (something that is needed at our local station.We actually heard WFOY's Kerry MCarthy blow her nose on the air!)

To hear the show go here and link on to First Coast Connect(on the left) Thurs. It'll be there for a few days and then be archived for October 1 later when they get around to it.