Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Guerrilla marketing: Maine´s mural massacre a boon to artist Judy Taylor

Judy Taylor´s 36-foot wide mural banned by Maine´s Gov. Paul LePage
If your book was banned in Boston by prudish, neo-con moralists, you got headlines and made money.

Mount Desert Island, Maine muralist Judy Taylor should thank her state´s right-wing Gov. Paul LePage for banning her 36-foot, 11-panel mural from a state office building on 25 March.

LePage, who has called some New York City murals “communist propaganda” and anyone protesting his ban, “idiots,” had responded to an anonymous complaint that Taylor´s mural was not business friendly.

Three mural panels by Judy Taylor

Did Taylor omit painting bankers with halos, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Insurance as bulwarks of the American way of life?

She worked a year researching and creating her work.

For three years since its installation, not a mumbling word of complaint.

In 2006, Taylor received a $60,000 commission through a federal grant to Maine, approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, which now wants its money back.

When the feds weighed in this week, requesting a piece of the commission should the state sell Taylor´s mural at auction.

This could create a worrisome conundrum for LePage. Some fat cat liberal might buy it and make Taylor an art-martyred millionaire.

In 2008, Maine installed Taylor´s mural in the lobby of the state´s new labor department offices in Augusta.

We only had to wait for Glenn Beck, Fox News and the Tea-Party head-bangers to awaken at least one of LePage´s faithful to motivate Maine´s recent madness.

Gov. Paul LePage

Some of our history deserves to be praised, not vilified.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt´s New Deal reforms subsidized writers and artists, ironically initiating the American mural movement.

We owe a great deal to these artists who recorded our history, including creating a wealth of first-person accounts by African-American slaves, personal histories when consumed in the collective, flesh out the sins of slavery.

That was then, this is now.

A new wave of Tea Party and Fox News-inspired anti-union propaganda appears sweeping across the United States.
Admirers of Judy Taylor´s Maine mural 2008

Recently, Wisconsin´s Republican controlled legislature manipulated parliamentary procedure, approving a law banning all collective bargaining.

Wisconsin, like neighboring Minnesota, where I grew up, once served as bastions of populist, pro-worker and progressive politics.


When politics shifted far right, LePage and his ilk would prefer burning books (think Hitler, 1937), banning art (Stalin, Fidel Castro) and revising history to fit those in power.

My guerrilla marketing advice: Take advantage of these neo-conservatives, incite them into becoming your best public relations team.

This could be a boon to art marketing and art activism.

Marketing art in today´s one-sided marketplace (think high-end auctions and art fairs) can intimidate, even defeat talented artists.

Factor in Chinese oil painting factories with thousands of artists banging out works to fit a mass market and our survival options become limited.
2008 opening reception for Judy Taylor´s mural

We turn to social networking for encouragement and support and sales.

If I were an emerging artist I would figure a way to get my work in a public place and make sure it carried allot of heat and noise, clothed in iconic controversy.

After it has been up for a few months, I would ask a friend to anonymously complain to the people in power that my work, mural or sculpture or provocative installation, is part of a communist or better yet, terrorist conspiracy or plot.

Neo-con conspiracy theorists once inspired and armed with fertile imagination and little education, can easily visualize evil communists and socialists lurking behind artist´s images.

Taylor is a victim and unanticipated benefactor of shifting political currents in a very troubled country that appears to have lost its way.

Like all good stories, others want to share the spotlight.

Take lawyers for example: 

On 1 April, some plaintiff´s personal injury lawyers, always looking for free publicity, filed a suit against LePage (perhaps to commemorate an April fool), demanding he disclose where he hid the mural.

Their clients are Maine union leaders, also out to capitalize on the governor´s stupidity.

This week under increasing pressure, LePage admitted his timing was bad and confessed the Taylor mural is stashed in the same public building´s basement.

Even the governor´s Republican Party gave him heat over stirring caldrons of conflict, casting clouds over the Grand Old Party during an election year. Eight state GOP senators joined in a public censure of LePage´s vitriolic behavior.

On 6 April, Maine´s Tea Party announced that these wavering, weak Republicans should, like the mural, be banned, relegated to the basement of politics.

They´re the "Gang of Eight," nothing but "a bunch of R.I.N.O.s," Richard Ashcroft railed on the Tea Party´s website, on 6 April. (A R.I.N.O. is a Republican In Name Only.)
He should have waited until lawmakers went home, LePage told the press. That´s as close to an apology as he would get.

LePage blamed the press for creating a "distraction."

Nazi Joseph Goebbels

Joseph Goebbels staged a huge bonfire and distraction burning books and erasing unpleasant realties and thoughts that might disturb a 1,000-year Third Reich.

Erase and revise history.

Following the ban, Taylor fielded a number of offers to display the work. Not mine, she said, talk to the governor.

But he won´t take calls.

Taylor, however, stressed that her mural should be displayed publically in Maine as intended, not locked in some labor department basement collecting dampness and dust.

Hopefully, she´ll suffer this insult all the way to the bank.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler™

Consider a week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop in the mountains of Andalusia or a walking holiday. Contact or
Judy Taylor, 2008 mural panel

Contact ArtTraveler at or by calling (34) 951 067 703 or from the UK at BT landline rates,0844 774 8349.

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