By Carol McCracken (Post # 748)
A panel of almost like-minded people gathered today at the Portland Museum of Art for a discussion about the controversial removal of the labor mural from Maine’s Department of Labor, Augusta. The event went from noon until shortly past its planned ending time at 1:30 pm. Alan Hinsey moderated the event.
Mural artist Judy Taylor was greeted with a standing ovation when she was introduced to describe her 11 panel labor mural which has drawn national attention to her work. An attractive women, Taylor said that the last panel no. 11 was intended to address the future of labor in Maine. It raises the question of can Maine attract more business to the State and what kind of businesses will they be? At the end of the symposium, Taylor was interviewed by a reporter from “The Washington Post” – who said the article would appear next week in the newspaper.
The sole dissenting member of the 6 member panel, mostly from the arts community, was conservative shock-jock Ray Richardson, WLOB Radio. He contended that the Department of Labor was not the appropriate venue for the mural because it’s not public enough, because only a limited number of people see it. He advocated making it a traveling mural that is displayed all over the state, although he did not say who would pay for that expense. Richardson said that a group of Republicans from Aroostook county were trying to get enough $$ together to purchase the mural, so the taxpayers of Maine would not have to pay the bill that would be imposed on it by the US Department of Labor for failure to return the mural to the Labor Department. Richardson also said: “The mural won’t go back on the wall unless there is a court order. I heard from him. I talked to the Governor.”
Richardson appeared more interested in making headlines than in addressing the legal and process issues that have surfaced since the Governor secretly removed the mural from the Labor Department several weekends ago and breached a contract with the artist Taylor. The process that is clearly defined was not followed. “Sure, the Governor has broken laws,” he said in several off-handed comments.
Judy Taylor said: “To have it go elsewhere would not honor its intent. It’s an industrial building.”