Thursday, September 30, 2010

We Should Do This

The painting above La Reve was due to be sold in 2006 for 139 million dollars when the owner, Steve Wynn accidentally poked a small hole in it with his elbow. After a 90,000 dollar repair, the painting was appraised at 85 million dollars ...Whoops!

Picasso in St. Augustine

The City of St. Augustine's representatives ,on their last visit to Spain received a very tangible result by having the Museo de Picasso in Malaga, Spain offer to give St. Augustine a Picasso exhibit for the 450th anniversary celebration. This is a major gift. This collection, directly from the Picasso heirs, has never been in the U.S. before. This is a world class event!.

The naysayers are already starting up. "Why Picasso?" someone asked , unfamiliar with both art and our city's origin. "Oh, the cost!" say others , not realizing that this exhibit is a grand coup for us. Art lovers will travel from a great distance to see his works. Non art lovers will just want to see what 30 million dollar paintings look like in person.

Yes ,there are expenses. Shipping, security, insurance, not to mention that we need a location for such an exhibit. It requires more than four walls and a roof. City Manager John Regan suggests that the under utilized Visitor Information Center on San Marco Blvd be "beefed up" with a 1.5 million dollar addition. We agree that this would be a good thing and the addition will make this an excellent place for weddings, banquets and further exhibits. A six month or 12 month (even better) Picasso exhibit will more than cover costs to the community.

Vision is what is required. We are lucky to have this invitation. Our former City Manager Bill Harris. stated in 2008 that he thinks "Art is Foo-Foo". It is fortunate for us that he retired recently and we have people is the city who recognize that this is an event that is perfectly aligned with our 450th anniversary in five years.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Downtown Rally On A Misty Eve.

                                                   Last Night   Story Here

Monday, September 27, 2010

Suvo at Large

You can see on the left a ghostly image. This is a photo of local racist tough guys beating on the future U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young at that precise location in 1964

After spending time on the corner of St. George and King St. (from 3 pm to 9pm Saturday) I did some sketching and answered questions to only one person who showed any interest.That's OK, it was a pleasant day............until.

It turns out that though I am not in the Plaza which is prohibited to artists ,I was in violation of a different recently passed ordinance that prohibits him from being where I was and quoting a price. Display seems to be OK as previous tickets were dropped cause they didn't catch me selling (I do not sell very much, lately). It's interesting to note that my citation states that I was in the "West Plaza de la Constitucion". Again, the city or the police officer is creating new language for one of the oldest spots in this city. Loring Park is named after a one armed Confederate general whose remains are buried there.The officer is saying that I was in the "West Plaza de la Constitucion" aka Loring Park, when in actuality, I was across the street and half a block east as anyone who knows downtown St. Augustine can tell you from the picture above.

The one person who showed interest in my art happened to have been sent undercover as a tourist( Officer B. Ganmon) to get me to quote a price for my work......I did....., and the "paddy wagon "came as I was closing up at 9 pm. Two police officers, one uniformed and one in street clothes told me that I "may be under arrest and going to jail". I asked them to make up their mind cause I wanted to go home if they were not going to arrest me.After almost twenty minutes of the two consulting on the phone, in their car I was given a ticket for $100  if I pay it, or up to 500 dollars and 90 days in jail if I lose in court. I have yet been able out of 15 tickets to have this in county court.All previous tickets for the same offense have been dropped, though I've been jailed overnight four times out of those 15 tickets..I appaarently became a "safety hazard" after I quoted a price to the undercover lady.I was safe and not at all a safety problem.until I said "For you?,Twenty dollars" ......Suvo

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ray Charles - St. Augustine

Ray Charles was born eighty years ago today in Albany, Georgia. His family moved to Greenville, Florida (near Tallahassee) when Ray was just an infant. Ray started to go blind when he was five years old and was totally blind by age seven. He attended the St. Augustine School for the Deaf & Blind from 1937 to 1945.

Charles played piano at the School and also worked a couple of summer breaks with relatives in Frenchtown, in Tallahassee. After his mother died and at the ripe age of 15, Charles also lived for awhile in Jacksonville and for over a year, he played the piano for bands at the Ritz Theatre in LaVilla, earning $4 a night.

Charles then moved to Orlando and later Tampa, where he played with a southern band called The Florida Playboys. This is where he began his habit of always wearing sunglasses, made by designer Billy Stickles.

Ray Charles left Florida and moved to Seattle and the rest is history. Ray Charles went on to pioneer soul music and rhythym and blues and also was instrumental in breaking down racial barriers not only in music but in theatres and concert halls across the South. For years his own homestate of Georgia banned him from performing there because he refused to play desegregated venues.

Ray Charles played music right up to the end of his life until he died June 10, 2004 from liver cancer at the age of 73.Thank You , Ray Charles.

Note: In the clip ...that looks like Chet Atkins on guitar behind Ray. Also notice the "white boys" in the audience just sittin' there, in the presence of musical genius, some with their arms folded, while the girls in the audience are boogying away.

"I'm not one to interpret my own songs, but if you can't figure out 'What I Say', then something's wrong. Either that, or you're not accustomed to the sweet sounds of love."—Ray Charles

"What'd I Say" was banned by many black and white radio stations because of, as one critic noted, "the dialogue between himself and his backing singers that started in church and ended up in the bedroom".

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Little History and a Lotta Baloney

12 Castillo Drive preparations for the Pirate Place, Pat Croce, owner

Workers are getting the St.Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum together for the November opening. Entrepreneur Pat Croce has relocated the museum here from Key West. Croce is not the shy retiring type as you can see from his website, "Pat Croce, Man or Myth!". Former part owner of basketball team , the Philadelphia 76ers, Croce is also the author of "My Pop-Pop is a Pirate", and "Lead or Get Off the Pot!" The advance press refers to St. Augustine as a former "pirate stronghold".(??!!) Me thinks not!

Croce decided to  leave Key West for  St.Augustine because he wanted a more family friendly atmosphere.
Your kids can come see and learn about the adventurous life of syphilitic, vagabond, cutthroat sociopaths who burned down our city twice. Eat some pirate grub and have a kiddie toddy on the.....and the kids will like this........on the Poop Deck , (snicker, snicker)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Put The Brush Down!

On October 4 -10, thirty miles north in Jacksonville Florida, artists will meet in various points around the city to capture the scene in oils, acrylics and watercolor. This type of event for plein air artists happens all across the country. Unfortunately, St. Augustine chooses not only to ignore the aesthetic enhancement that this event provides but to ignore and prohibit artist's First Amendment rights.

Here in St. Augustine most of the historical district has been declared off limits to artists with the criminal penalties being up sixty days in jail and a five hundred dollar fine.Link

This Was A Confederate State

We have tour guides and trolley drivers pointing out that the structure (pictured above) that was once closer to the bay front before dredge fill,  was "Never a slave market". Historian Geoff Dobson contends that this is the fact, while historian David Nolan states that it occurred numerous times under the roof of what we call "The Slave Market".
Here are both sides :   Dobson Never A Slave Market            
                   Nolan Slaves Traded Here

It is interesting to note that some feel that acknowledgement that this trading of human chattel may have occurred here is somehow not politically correct. Author/historian Karen Harvey was quoted by the St. Augustine Record that  she was "appalled to think anyone would use a term I believed to be derogatory to the African-American population " Karen Harvey's take on the Slave Market

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Our Yankee Friends

In New York City the Bloomberg administration proposed new public park rules for Union Square, High Line, Columbus Circle and Central Park. The new rules would reduce the number of art vendors by 75%. The Federal Court has issued a temporary injunction against the city from enacting these ordinances.The previous final Federal courts have always upheld the First Amendment rights of artists. The Bloomberg administration for City of New York cites safety though the majority of the locations are loaded "legal vendors" taking up most of the space. Last year alone concessions generated more than $43 million in revenue for the city, according to recent testimony from the Parks Department.

Here in St. Augustine we have the nation's oldest park established by Spanish Royal decree 133 years before a bowling green was set up in what is now Central Park. The City of St. Augustine does not permit artists to show and sell their wares in most of the historic district particularly the ironically named Plaza of the Constitution. Cited is the bogus argument of "health and safety".

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Constitution Week

Photos by J.D. Pleasant, L to R: Roger Jolley and Scott Raimondo R: Charles Dickinson, Bottom Left: Suvo burning his city citations, Lower Right: Kate Merrick and grandchildren

Our U.S. Constitution was signed on September 17, 213 years ago. City Commissioner Erroll Jones spoke yesterday to the women of the D.A.R. He referenced the Spanish Constitutional Monument of 1812 in our Plaza named after the Spanish Constitution. With a little more research Mr. Jones would not have stated that Generalissimo Franco ordered the monuments to that 1812 document destroyed. The dictator General had not reached power in Spain until 1939 making him long unborn in 1814 when Ferdinand VII ordered the Constitution as void and all monuments torn down.(Thank you very much, Catholic Church) Apparently here in St. Augustine they felt slighted as an insignificant outpost and they had put in a lot of work on their monument."Al Diablo Con Esso" (The devil with that!) they might have said and left the monument here in the Plaza. It may be the only remaining monument to the Spanish 1812 Constitution. Of course they have had six Constitutions since that time. Things change.

Come on Commissioner, you were in Cadiz two weeks ago on the taxpayer's dollar where the history of that 1812.Constitution is most important to the Spanish. Were you listening to your private tour guides! Take notes the next time (Will that be your third or fourth trip?)

Clueless Bobbleheads!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

City Control

Dr. King in St. Augustine, 1964

Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed here during the 1964 civil rights demonstrations. He was charged with trespass and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, like the kid in the photo, standing up for his rights and his family's rights.

It was during that time that the St. Augustine City Commission and Mayor Shelley removed all public water fountains and passed this ordinance:

Sec. 22-4. Parks; holding public meetings.

It shall be unlawful for any person to hold any public meeting of any character whatsoever in any of the parks of the city without permission of the city manager.

(Code 1964, § 17-46)

This "law" is still on the books. The artists (at least one) will be meeting in the Plaza soon. The public is invited. We have not asked for "permission".

Our Kids Are Somewhat "Just Average"

On November 13 "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor" will be at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. The show will start at 5:45 Pm to allow the senior audience time to get home for bedtime.

We find it interesting that local activist (some say gadfly) Ed Slavin bears a remarkable resemblance to the spooky voiced Keillor. Put a fright wig on Garrison and you would see the similarities right off. With both of these personalities, we find that we can take them in small doses only and the City Commission obliges by giving Ed his three minutes to present his opinions while they sit stone faced behind their communal desk. Ed sometimes throws in a colloquial, Y'all reckon"!, but other than that the oral delivery by these two men is quite different

Keillor, on the other hand presents his folksy show that is leaning more and more toward presenting Appalachian based musicians with more tales of Lake Woebegon than we can handle. Many of us would have moved from Lake Woebegon years before. A description of a boring town with it's "colorful" characters like the guy who can't find the ingredients to Moo Goo Gai Ding anywhere in Woebegon can only go so far. We give him credit for coming up with mildly fun stories and sometimes even serious tales with a moralistic viewpoint. He and his crew have been doing this for 36 years.

We can predict that the crowd will be very polite, well dressed and reefer use will be down compared to the "The Flaming Lips" concert. Security can relax a little but keep the defibrillator handy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vice Mayor of Florida

Tonight at the City of St. Augustine City Commission Commissioner Erroll Jones gave his report on the city's delegation to three cities in Spain. His delivery and "facts" were just plain embarassing. He had a slide show of  places the delegation visited. City Manager Regan who was also on the trip had to interrupt him numerous times to either correct the commissioners pronunciation or to correct Jones's facts.

We are interested in the offer of a Picasso exhibit from Northern Spain. Though Jones confuses Picasso with Dali it is hoped that someone follows up on this offer.

Our grade for your presentation, Commissioner..............D minus

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Artist at Union Square, Manhattan

Our artist friends in NYC have successfully defended their first amendment rights over and over again. In preparation for the usual Holiday Market over the Xmas season, the Bloomberg administration wants to curtail First Amendment art activity in Union Square. A Federal Judge has interrupted their plans by issuing a temporary injunction against the city's enforcement. It is interesting to note that the city attorney quoted at the end of this article relies on the same bogus arguments and overturned lower court decisions that are used  by the St. Augustine administrators.

Thursday, September 09, 2010



I once had a girlfriend whose birthday was on Pearl Harbor Day December 7 when, in 1941, over 1200 Americans died out there in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I could always recall her birthday by this event. My birthday is on 9-11 and yes, I believe that more of my friends now remember my date of birth because of the horrendous event of 9-11-01. 

As years pass and Pearl Harbor survivors reach old age start we tend to think of the attack on Pearl Harbor in the abstract, as just another date in the history books.The September 11 2001 attack on the World Trade Center has taken it's place as the touchstone example of physical foreign intrusion on our nation. Over 2900 lives ended on that spot, on that day. We all were changed by that event. One day it will be another date in the history books but not for awhile.

We all remember where we were when we heard about this terrorist act. Live TV coverage put us there as it was happening. The whole east coast of the U.S. was cloudless and  beautiful blue skies was the rule. If the day was overcast and cloudy, history may have recorded another different  unthinkable happening (shudder)....a large jet skidding into the midst of 6th Avenue. These were not well trained seasoned pilots.

On September 11, 2001 I had recently returned to my hometown after a 26 year absence. My father's health was failing and I was the only one of the family who could devote time to ease him into what was most likely, imminent death ( it turned out that dad spent four more years with his Parkinson's Disease) Feeling like a stranger in my hometown , I was grateful when my youngest sister invited me for a birthday lunch in St. Louis, 20 minutes away by light rail. My father was still ambulatory and could be left alone. After an hour of watching the television coverage of the Twin Towers falling, I recalled my time in New York City. The plaza between the two Towers was one of my favorite people watching spots. On a clear September day I might be found sitting in the plaza near Fritz Koenig's sculpture "The Sphere," with  a brown bag lunch from Balducci's. This was what was later referred to as "Ground Zero". 

Taking the train into St. Louis, all passenger conversations were regarding the N.Y.C. terrorist attack. I almost teared up as one woman told her that she heard that over 12,000 people were dead. I knew that the Trade Center certainly held that many people and more. The lady said this so "matter of factly" as if she were recounting the score of a Cardinals game. At lunch with my sister, in a popular midtown restaurant/bar, all eyes were on the large screen television (especially brought in?) St. Louis is a long way from N.Y.C. but there was a tangible feeling of  anger and pain in the comments around our table. I do not recall any of the lighthearted laughter that you would find in a lunchtime crowd. After lunch, my sister had to return to her job at nearby Washington University and I walked to the St. Louis Art Museum. The museum was closed for "security reasons". The trains were still running and I returned to my father's apartment.

I remember a man from the former Soviet Union who set up his vendor's cart in the world Trade Center Plaza selling  those little hollow wooden dolls (matryoshkas) that nested inside each other. He was the epitome of the American Dream. Ivan was almost 70 and loved America and had a house in Queens. He told me of his time in the Gulag during the Khruschev era. I never asked him why he was punished, it seemed rude to do so. He would've been setting up his stand at 8 am that morning and I realized that he would be a survivor since he was at ground level and the buildings did not fall right away. I remembered a visit to the Trade Center three years prior to the terrorism. I was looking for an acquaintance on the 40th floor.He worked in a brokerage house. Not only did I find the whole floor of offices empty, I wandered through the eiree atmosphere, scraps of memos and old phonebooks littered the floor that sprouted spaghetti like electrical lines where the desks were formerly located. Out of business...gone and abandoned . The bedroom sized elevator still stopped at that floor returning me to ground level.

From my apartment on River Street in Hoboken across the Hudson River, I could see Manhattan Island as a shimmering diorama with the  Empire State building in the middle and the Twin Towers at the ocean end on the right. Not having lived there before the Towers were erected, it was to me, a symbol of that great wonderful metropolis. A year after the terrorist attack I returned on a visit and stood on the New Jersey bank of the Hudson and saw.....a blank spot where the towers were. Crossing over by ferry I was astonished to see an old friend.......a survivor of the calamity. Crushed, bruised and relocated ,I found the "The Sphere"  in Battery Park. Bouquets of flowers were placed around the metal artwork and handwritten notes to lost loved ones were pinned to the greenery. A welder was inside the ball working to repair only some of the damage with most of the dents and dings remaining as a memory of the disaster. His welding torch made sparks come out of the holes in the big metal ball.

It was then...a year after the catastrophe that I cried a little, there on a park bench.

by Dr. Cora Angier Sowa

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Trip to Spain

click on to enlarge

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Do as We say, not as We do

City barricade left on the sidewalk during Labor Day weekend. Thursday,Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday

Preamble (paraphrased) to Ordinance 22-6 prohibiting artists in the Plaza........(The artist vendors) block sidewalks impeding pedestrian traffic and prohibiting orderly passage through the Plaza.

First Amendment in the Plaza

Krishna Consciousness chant along in the Plaza.

 "The city said we could do this because we are a religious group"

Monday, September 06, 2010

Life in St. Augustine

While waiting at the bar for a food order to go this big sweaty guy thrust a camera toward me and said "These two want their picture taken!" I obliged. The guy ( Call me, "FishMan !") jumped next to them and threw his arm around them and said "Say Sushi!". They happen to be Chinese.

If you are in your late (or early) 50's and hanging out in tourist bars, forcing your way into their snapshots, give the following some thought:

1. We know that they have never heard your really filthy rendition of "The Aristocrats", but leave it be.

2. Yes, you are knowledgible about St. Augustine history except that the Yankees did NOT burn down the city during the Civil War and Ponce de Leon was not an hermaphrodite. (He wasn't, was he?)

3. You are almost 60, perhaps the too short running shorts and T shirt are more fitting for a 14 year old boy.

4. You say "Young chicks dig older men". Don't kid yourself. You just might be the "creepy old guy at the end of the bar". Remember that guy from the past?....well now it is YOU!

5. Perhaps now is the time to start pursuing a more healthy lifestyle. SlimJims, beer and nachos will kill you.

6. Stop calling yourself "middle aged" No one lives to be 120 years old.


7. Finally. Be yourself........ you've earned it .....and if you are that guy who really, really loves being the old guy in the bar, then I take back everything. Forget it all. Embrace life on your own terms.The exception being the "shirt rule".


We Had Cake!


That's sixteen year old Marc Sala in the center. His mother is local Art In The Market artist, Helena Sala.

Pay Galleries

Interesting response to a previous post

Saturday, September 04, 2010

On and On

These photos are from activities in St. Augustine's Plaza de la Constitucion within a 24 hour period last Thursday -Friday. A nice concert by Skin'n Bonz was held in the Gazebo and was well attended. A man in white was dragging a cross along the sidewalks around the Plaza. An artist set up an easel with three artworks. Take notice of which one was fined for creating clutter and a safety hazard.

Over twenty citations have been issued in the past four years (including jail for three artists).Not one was ever prosecuted! Continuing the harassment, the City of St. Augustine picks and chooses what they consider peaceful constitutional activity.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

1.35 MIL for Christina Ricci ?

A Manhattan man is being sued for losing a $1.35 million painting.

He blames the booze - saying the Jean Baptiste Camille Corot masterpiece, "Portrait of a Girl," vanished following a bender at The Mark hotel.

The artwork's co-owner, Kristyn Trudgeon, isn't buying James Haggerty's tale.
"I think he's a complete fumbling idiot," a visibly annoyed Trudgeon said outside her West Side apartment. "He's just a complete a--hole." More here               UPDATE

Another Story Art Dealer to the stars to serve 6 years for $120M fraud

Local link Buyer Beware

"Wild Man of the Woods"

6"x4" Green Man , unfired clay

Vague, Capricious and above all..Arbitrary!

The sign below has been altered for illustrative purposes
Quigley gets first warning before 100 dollar fine.
It looks like he's preparing for his handcuffs doesn't it?

CITY CODE Sec. 22-6 ....(Prohibited)"Street performer or street performances includes acting, juggling, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, mime, magic, dancing, artistry or the creation of visual art and wares, which includes drawings or paintings."

The Federal Courts have consistently ruled that visual art (paintings, prints and photography) is fully protected by First Amendment making public parks the quintessential location for free speech. Bery vs N.Y.C. Mayor Guiliani was forced to concede that display on public property was guaranteed by the U.S. Constutucion. He then argued that sales of these protected items (paintings and prints) are not part of the guarantees. The courts disagreed, citing an earlier case, Lakewood vs. Plain Dealer Pub that wrote “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.”  Guiliani lost the case and appealed it to the Supreme Court who refused to overturn the appeals court decision.So, Why is it so hard for the City Of St. Augustine to honor the high courts decisions? "We have our own rules down here", said then Asst. City Attorney Whitehouse back in 2006. Since then, over twenty citations have been issued and three artists have been jailed on six occasions for exercising the rights that have been well settled by the Federal Courts.In May 2009 Federal Judge Marcia Morales Howard ruled against the city. The City of St. Augustine was forced to vacate all charges and pay the artists and attorneys over 80 thousand dollars for legal fees.

On Saturday, August 28th artist Suvo set up in the Plaza de la Constitucion and was approached by an officer who requested that he turn off the video cam, apparently wanting to speak "off the record". Since there was a non artist citizen witness there Suvo complied (big mistake) The officer then said that a meeting was held and it was decided that Suvo could display and sell but cannot "draw a crowd." (a ticket for violating the ordinance 22-6 was issued the previous month and was dropped when Suvo requested a court date for a hearing.) When asked what defined a "crowd" the officer stated that this was a "muddy" area. Suvo continued to display and tried to sell his art until the day darkened, about seven more hours.

The next day artist Dean Quigley set up his easel and a small rack of works for sale and as pictured above was told by the same officer from the day before that he is in violation of 22-6 ordinance and was asked for id and social security number. It  was put on record that he was warned and the next time he would receive a 100 dollar fine. This time as opposed to the numerous time in the past few years he was not told to leave.

Artist Scott Raimondo yesterday asked the same officer about the ordinance and was told that it is in full effect that the area of the Plaza was restricted and that no one can display sell or paint in the restricted area (covering 94% of the total area) The 75 dollar illegal permits are also not being enforced (until THEY want to).

The City is practicing arbitrary and capricious enforcement that is the very definition of vagueness. We call it "making it up as you go along." "An unjust law is no law at all ",St. Augustine of Hippo