April 4, 2011

350 at pro-mural rally tell LePage to 'put it back'

By Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — About 350 people demonstrated in the State House today in support of the worker-themed mural that Gov. Paul LePage removed last month from the lobby of the Maine Department of Labor.

The crowd chanted "Put it back" and "Recall Paul," and they sang a song that extolled the virtues of both workers' rights and public art.

Many of demonstrators are involved in the arts.

Natasha Mayers, one of the founding members of the Union of Maine Visual Artists, told the crowd that LePage's behavior in the last three months – including his decision to remove the mural – has tarnished the state's reputation.

She noted a recent Hartford Courant editorial, which called the mural's removal "the most moronic and mindless anti-worker gesture in the country."

In attempting to "re-brand" the state as pro-business, Mayers said, LePage has "dealt a staggering blow to the state's tourism industry and creative economy."

Portland City Councilor David Marshall, who owns an art studio, said that the controversy has produced some positive results. He said LePage has made the mural's artist, Judy Taylor of Tremont, and the mural internationally famous.

"He has taught us more about Maine's labor history than we have ever known," Marshall said. "He has brought us together."

Some of the artist brought some funny signs. One said, "Kiss my canvas."

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