Monday, June 21, 2010

Word Art

On Sunday from 10am to 9 Pm the Plaza had eight of these "artworks" scattered throughout. The message is clear. For some reason this display was ignored by the authorities. Could it be the city hall boys simply do not care for my artworks,cause yesterday I received a ticket for the same thing except my artwork was on the easel. Art is a universal language. A photo or painting carries a message just as well as this graffiti. A non English reading person can "get" the painting before he can comprehend a written description of that painting. This statement is repeated in most free speech/ art/ first amendment cases.Here is part of a decision affirming visual artist's full First Amendment rights

"Chinese characters are both narrative and pictorial representations. Nahuatl, a language used by Aztec peoples in Central America, also incorporates pictures in its written language. Visual artwork is as much an embodiment of the artist's expression as is a written text, and the two cannot always be readily distinguished."
Here is part of the "law "unanimously passed by the St. Augustine City Commission last September.

Prohibited in the Plaza de la Constitucion, St, George Street (and fifty feet on either side), Anderson Circle, Ponce de Leon Circle, Loring Park and all streets directly adjacent to the aforementioned locations................"artistry or the creation of visual art and wares, which includes drawings or paintings applied to paper, cardboard, canvas, cloth or to other similar medium when such art is applied to the medium through the use of brush, pastel, crayon, pencil, spray or other similar object."

Yesterday, I spoke to an artist who pays 1200 dollars a month to set up his easel and a print rack in an indent space in front of a retail jewelry store. "Yeah, but when an artist collects money he becomes a vendor right?"

My answer to him was twofold. 1. An artist should learn the law and what his rights are 2. I quoted a Federal case (I know it by heart) ""It is well settled that a speaker's rights are not lost merely because compensation is received; a speaker is no less a speaker because he or she is paid to speak." Riley v. Natl Fed'n of Blind of North Carolina.

For those who cannot equate speech with pictures and paintings , my word message is this, and no offense is intended: Though this is a simple statement, it is too abstract for those whose linear thinking abruptly stops and fragmented thinking takes over. This is our City Commission.

It is not illegal for artists to display and offer their work for sale on public property. It is not illegal for artists to set paint a picture on public property.

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