Monday, February 1, 2016

St. Augustine at 450: A Crealdé Documentary Project


Hannibal Square Heritage Center, (642 West New England Avenue, Winter Park, FL) held an opening for Crealdé's newest photo documentary project, which  celebrates the oldest city in the United States, Saint Augustine, on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of its founding. Ten photographers captured the city's past, its preservation efforts and its place as a tourist destination, college town and home to a diverse population.The photos showcased the city's historic sights. Had this been an exhibition of pie in air paintings and or sketches it would have been a different story. The historic city of Saint Augustine has a law on the books which makes the creation of art in the city's most historic areas illegal. Artists found guilty of painting or sketching are subject to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The city of Winter Park decided to copy this insane ordinance which is being contested in the supreme court for being unconstitutional. It is non illegal to create art in Winter Park's Park Avenue, New England Avenue and Heritage Square. Largely drafted to prohibit performance art, visual art's are included in the law. If I were to return to Heritage Square Center, where this sketch was done and I tried to sketch the building exterior, I could face jail time today. The ordinance went into effect on December 14, 2015.

The Musical group in this sketch is Ka Malinalli which performed traditional Mexican tunes and original music. The violinist is 16 year old Ariah DeasonKattya Graham, who founded the group has since decided to perform solo. Kattya gave me a CD and I enjoy the music in my car on long drives. A large Day of the Dead skull and a small sculpture of a face breaking free of a mask pointed back to the mystical Mexican roots behind the music. 

Would I return to Hannibal Square to sketch now that Winter Park considers my actions criminal? Only time will tell.  But Winter Park has certainly taken a step back to the dark ages by limiting and criminalizing freedom of expression.  Were Ka Malinalli to perform outside the Heritage Center today they too could face jail time.

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