Republican Governor Paul LePage has decided to rewrite history with the decision to remove a large 11-panel mural (image above is a detail of three panels) in the State’s capitol, Agusta. The mural, painted by Judy Taylor, is three years old and depicts the history of labour in the region.
The three-year-old mural has 11 panels showing scenes of Maine workers, including colonial-era shoemaking apprentices, lumberjacks, a “Rosie the Riveter” in a shipyard and a 1986 paper mill strike. Taken together, his administration deems these scenes too one-sided in favor of unions.
A spokeswoman said Mr. LePage, a Republican, ordered the mural removed after several business officials complained about it and after the governor received an anonymous fax saying it was reminiscent of “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.”
“The Department of Labor is a state agency that works very closely with both employees and employers, and we need to have a décor that represents neutrality,” said Mr. LePage’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett.
This kind of censorship is reminiscent of the infamous 1933 Diego Rivera mural removal at the Rockefeller RCA building in New York. The free market-loving Rockefeller objected to the presence of Lenin in the massive, arresting and provocative mural and when Rivera refused to paint over the Russian leader’s face, the wall art was covered for a year, then chiseled off. Rivera reproduced the work at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, where it can still be seen to this day.
With enough voices supporting the mural in Maine, we hope that it doesn’t face the same fate as the Rivera mural. To tell the Governor how you feel, call 207-287-3531, fax 207-287-1034, or fill out the “Ideas and Suggestions” form for the Governor’s office here.