Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cigarz on the Avenue attracts regulars.

Cigarz on the Avenue, 333 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL, seems to always have customers outside smoking a thick one. Sometimes I go to Winter Park just to enjoy a stroll down Park Avenue. Terry might crinkle her nose and complain any time we walk near smokers. I on the other hand seem to have lost all of my sense of smell. Anytime I return from a vacation, I notice a smell of mold when I get to Orlando. I'm likely allergic to Orlando. Having lost the sense of smell however can be a blessing however since it allowed me to relax outside the Cigar Store and sketch the regular patrons who likely relax every afternoon at this spot. I can say this because a woman stopped to admire my drawing and she named the two gentlemen and told me they could be found at this spot everyday.

The Cigar store wooden Indian seemed to have lost the spear or stogie he once held. He must search for it every night, but his feet are strapped to a dolly which might inhibit his movement. Then again he might get around better by kneeling down and using his hands to roll himself around the shop. I thought that a wooden Indian wasn't exactly a politically correct way to attract customers. But what do I know, 

Because of the general illiteracy of the populace, early store owners used descriptive emblems or figures to advertise their shops' wares; for example, barber poles advertise barber shops. American Indians and tobacco had always been associated because American Indians introduced tobacco to Europeans, and the depiction of native people on smoke-shop signs was almost inevitable. As early as the 17th century, European tobacconists used figures of American Indians to advertise their shops.

Because European carvers had never seen a Native American, these early cigar-store "Indians" looked more like black slaves with feathered headdresses and other fanciful, exotic features. These carvings were called "Black Boys" or "Virginians" in the trade. Eventually, the European cigar-store figure began to take on a more "authentic" yet highly stylized native visage, and by the time the smoke-shop figure arrived in the Americas in the late 18th century, it had become thoroughly "Indian." People within the Native American community often view such likenesses as a caricature or as depictions that perpetuate stereotypes, drawing an analogy to the African-American lawn jockey, which I've heard is quite popular in Winter Park as well.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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