Dept. of Labor mural ticketed for Portland – Protestors outraged

Rob Poindexter

Updated 3 years ago

A mural that hangs in the lobby at the Department of Labor will soon have a new home if the governor has his way. The fact he wants it taken down has incensed labor officials across the state.Protestors showed up to voice their outrage over the governor’s plans to move the mural. LePage says it’s inappropriate because it only shows employees point of view. “I think it’s a two way street,” he says. “To just have it one sided is unfair and certainly not true because the Department of Labor does unemployment, they also do career placement.”The governor’s office has now announced plans to move the mural to Portland City Hall, but the hundreds of people gathered at the labor department say that’s not good enough. They want it to stay right here. Robert Shetterly is President of the Union of Visual Artists, and one of the organizers of the protest. “It is not an acceptable compromise,” he says of the move to Portland. “I mean this is a painting about labor in Maine and the history of labor in Maine and it needs to be in the department of labor.” Shetterly says if the Governor wants the mural out he should get a citizen’s petition and see how many signature he can get. The artist who painted the mural, Judy Taylor, also spoke out about the governor’s decision. “Well I think that’s misguided,” Taylor said. “I’ve stated before the mural is based on factual episodes of history and had no intention to be biased at all but based on historical facts.”LePage says it only shows one side of Maine’s labor history. “History is about two sides. Like in a war. If you’re going to have a true picture of the war you have the picture of both sides fighting. in this case they should be working together.”The Maine People’s Voting Coalition says the governor doesn’t have the authority to move the mural. In an email to TV 5 they point to Note per 27 MRSA Section 86-A:”The Maine State Museum holds title, as trustee for the State, to all historical materials, other than documents or other library or archival items under the administrative jurisdiction of the Maine State Library or the Maine State Archives, that are or may become the property of the State and are or may be housed in the public buildings of the State. These historical materials include the banners and flags presently housed in the State House Hall of Flags and may include, but are not restricted to, paintings, sculptures and other works of art dealing with historic subjects..” That group says if the Governor tries to have the mural moved they’ll file an emergency petition. That threat didn’t seem to concern the governor. “Tell ‘em to sue me,” LePage said on Friday.Some say they would use themselves as human shields to prevent the mural from being moved. LePage had this response. “Laugh at them. I would laugh at them the idiots.”For now, the mural remains at the Department of Labor. Judy Taylor hopes it stays there. “It was painted for the labor department. That’s what I did. Paint it for where it’s supposed to be.”LePage says he has no plans to change his mind. “It is high time that organized labor and business get together and work out there differences. that was a one sided issue let’s bring both sides to the table,” LePage said.


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