• Local painting creates controversial buzz

    By: Erica Bennett


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Lots of people come to Brew Coffeehouse each day in Jacksonville -- but what they don't often realize or notice is the painting that's just on the other side of the doors inside the foyer.

    It has deep meaning and relevance to what's going on in America right now -- the artwork is called "Cease and Desist." It was created about three months ago by Thony Aiuppy. 

    "In the foreground, there's three police officers kind of detaining a black man," Aiuppy said. "They're kind of wearing '70s-style clothes. In the middle ground, there are Civil War soldiers just kind of looking away. Don't know if they're intentionally looking away and allowing things to happen."

    The deaths of Eric Garner and Freddie Gray have sparked outrage about police brutality and racial discrimination, and Aiuppy says this piece is supposed to shed light on that. 

    Catalina Alers-Alers, a regular at the coffeehouse, says that's exactly what it does.

    "People kind of pretend that racism doesn't exist anymore and it obviously does," Alers-Alers said. "It's a huge problem, but a lot of people are turning a blind eye when they see black guys getting harassed for what seems like no reason."

    Even though Aiuppy is white, he says he believes in social awareness and empathizing with all races.

    "I live in Springfield, and there's a lot of diversity in Springfield. It would be horrible if that was something happening in my neighborhood," Aiuppy said. 

    He hopes his art can serve as a teaching tool.

    "For Jacksonville in particular, it gives us an opportunity to discuss and heal and bring unity," Aiuppy said. 

    Aiuppy isn't slowing down any time soon. His next project involves creating portraits for the diverse people he met at this year's One Spark. 

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