I just read about an ordinance that has my feathers ruffled and my panties in a twist! And mainly because it affects one of my favorite towns: Winter Park, FL. The beautiful town I grew up in and which laid the foundation for my interest in art.
Plein Air Magazine, April/May 2016 issue reports that Winter Park, known for supporting artists in the past, has become the latest city to criminalize plein air painting in areas of its downtown. It joins St. Augustine which was the first Florida city to do so in its blanket effort to remove street musicians from the business district.
Provisions have been made for special exemptions for special events and/or permits allowing occasional, temporary work to be done. To paraphrase one objector, "So after weeks of processing a permit, you think there will be good light on my date in my spot?"
Oil, 20 x 30 by Morgan Samuel Price
plein air painter
now illegal to paint en situ
A FB page was started that you can visit here, called Illegal Paintings of Winter Park. There is also an opinion piece written here from the Orlando Sentinel. How did I not know this?
Think about it: have you ever been fascinated watching a street painter do their work? I don't paint a lot outside because it is very difficult and the people issue is just one of the challenges. But I have taken my easel to the streets of Mexico, to Rome, Naples, Venice...I've carried a sketchbook to Madrid, Paris and all over our National Parks. It has always been the "job" of artists to record the feelings and street scenes of our daily lives.
Now....could there be a business or liability problem? Hmm, maybe so. But I have never seen an artist refuse to move their rig if it was pointed out they were blocking an entry or a sidewalk...in fact, most of us try desperately hard to be discreet. Is someone over-reacting here? I'm afraid that such an ordinance is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Can you imagine telling the artists of yore that working on public land could get them into trouble with the law? Nope, me neither.
Well, forewarned. Unless non-artists stick up for the artists there will likely be a dearth of plein air work (never mind festivals) being done in such charming cities as Savannah, Charleston, Boston or Sedona for that matter. The next city that is investigating the ordinance? Asheville, NC.