On the missing Maine Labor Mural: Deb Fahy’s open letter to the KJ

Visit mainelabormural.blogspot.com to read many other statements, news articles and much more about the Maine Labor Mural.

The process for selecting and placing public art is a democratic one, especially when it is paid for by public money as Judy Taylor’s “History of Maine Labor” mural was, under the Percent for Art Program. With a little research online I discovered that the Maine Arts Commission released an RFP which resulted in over 100 submissions, and oversaw the process whereby Maine artist Judy Taylor was selected out of three finalists by a volunteer panel of arts professionals and community members. The artist spent a full year designing and crafting the 7 foot high by 35 foot long mural. She and Charles Scontras, a professor of history at the University of Maine, spent untold hours researching Maine‚Äôs labor history. Press from the time of its installation in the summer of 2008, describe the mural as a source of pride and inspiration for staff at the Department of Labor. The subject matter is a visual montage representing factual moments in the history of labor in Maine. It is an aesthetically excellent, beautifully crafted work of art.

Where is our democratic process when a few anonymous complaints can undo all of that? The mural needs to stay right where it is, in the space it was designed for.

Deb Fahy
Executive Director
Harlow Gallery
Kennebec Valley Art Association

I got a call from the Maine Arts Commission after this letter ran in the Kennebec Journal on April 8, 2011, regarding factual errors in my letter. My sources were an assortment of press clippings from June 2008 posted on the Maine State Employee Association website (in the Bulletin Board File Box section). The articles were part of a press release inviting the public to view the mural on August 22, 2008.

According to the Maine Arts Commission, the correct facts are as follows:

1. There were 18 entries to the original call for art, not hundreds.
2. It was not a percent for the art project; rather the Maine Arts Commission used the percent for the art process to select the mural which was paid for by labor money, a federal grant and private dollars.