Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Winter Park has adopted an ordinance that makes it illegal to create art on the merchant side of Park Avenue. If you were found creating or performing on Park Avenue, an artist could face a $500 fine and or 30 days in jail. Winter Park's Central Park, however, is considered exempt from the ordinance. It allows freedom of expression. Every day a religious group has brochures on display in the park, presumably to convert passengers getting off the Sun Rail. I decided to test the ordinance by setting up a small art pop up shop on the Central Park lawn. I used a red sheet as the base for the shop, and put out a few square and circular canvases and matted prints of Analog Artist Digital World sketches. I didn't put out any price tags, so that sales were considered a donation. One sketchbook was put out for anyone to flip through, but no one touched it.
Several artists joined me and sketched while sitting on brick planters. The art was officially in the park, since it was on the grass. The artists, myself included, however, were on the sidewalk and thus might be breaking the law by sketching. I never noticed a police officer that day. It was a perfect day for an art sale. I only sold one drawing that day, which was a figure drawing.
An old man and his caretaker sat on the park bench next to the art pop up shop. The old man smiled at all the young ladies who passed by and he asked how they were. He was good for business, he slowed people down, who then looked at the art. Late in the day, I decided to test the ordinance a bit further. I put several dollar bills in my baseball cap and layed it on the carpet. Within minutes, a golf cart pulled up and a park sanitation worker got out. He frowned at the hat with several bills in it and said I wasn't allowed to exhibit art in the park. I politely explained that it wasn't his job to make that call. He decided to let the situation slide, and he drove off in the cart to collect more garbage. He didn't point out that sketching was illegal, his sole concern was the hat with money in it. I put the hat back on my head to avoid escalating the situation. I was sure the sanitation worker would think twice, and come back. He never did.
On April 4th, I am hosting ODD 22 the Illegal Edition. ODD stands for Orlando Drink and Draw. This sketch outing, will be at The Wine Room on Park Avenue (270 S Park Ave, Winter Park, Florida 32789). We hope to sit at an outdoor table at the Wine Room and quietly sketch while sipping wine. This will be civilized civil disobedience.
Artists are lumped in with performers which means to engage in any of the following activities: acting; singing; playing musical instruments; puppetry; pantomiming, miming; performing or demonstrating magic or acts of illusion; dancing; juggling; or the public display of and composition or creation of crafts, sculpture, artistry, writings, or compositions, including the application of brush, pastel, crayon, pencil, or other similar objects applied to paper, cardboard, canvas, cloth or to other similar medium.
Prohibited public area means the pedestrian accessed public areas of the Central Business and Hannibal Square Districts along Park Avenue from Fairbanks Avenue to Swoope Avenue, and along New England Avenue from Park Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue including the area within fifty (50) feet of the public right-of-way of Park Avenue and New England Avenue on the public lanes, streets, thoroughfares and ways, including the Winter Park train station and the public property at what is known as the Winter Park Farmer's Market and the Winter Park Historical Association located at 200 West New England Avenue.
So, if you find this anti-art ordinance to be ridiculous, stop out with a sketchbook and pencil, and let's break the law. If anyone wants a digital "Winter Park Illegal Art" logo for their sketch, just let me know.