Monday, June 13, 2011

Tea Party art revisionist governor Scott Walker exiles populist kids´painting

"Wishes in the Wind," by David Lenz, exiled from Wisconsin Governor´s Mansion

There´s the art of politics and the politics of art—inseparable and combustible these days.

For Ai Weiwei in Beijing, Voina in Moscow, they´re inseparable.

While autocratic states like China and Russia can ban, disappear, murder or imprison its dissident artists, journalists and intellectuals (a nasty tradition), in the United States, it´s all the rage to make politically incorrect art go away.

Especially at the hands of Tea Party, fear-mongering, right-wing Republicans.

Into dark, dank basements as in Maine. 

Or exiled to a library far away from the historic warmth and populist history of the Wisconsin governor´s mansion.

Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker exiled a 2005, David Lenz-commissioned painting, “Wishes in the Wind,” showing three real children, one black, one Hispanic and one white.

Waker unceremoniously removed "Wishes in the Wind" from its post above the massive executive fireplace in Wisconsin´s state funded residence for its chief executive.

The money paid Lenz for the work specifically intended the painting to remind state officials who they represent, in this case, the children, who would one day grow up to vote.

Walker did not get the message.

Lenz painted real children in "Wishes in the Wind": one whose brother and father were killed by a drunk driver in 2009 and another who lived for months in a homeless shelter, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Walker replaced "Wishes in the Wind" with “Old Abe” (not Lincoln), a century-old painting of a Civil War-era bald eagle, allegedly born and reared in Wisconsin.

"Old Abe," one of many visual icons of the Civil War

Lenz was not pleased by the Tea Party political newcomer to the governor´s office, who piloted the legislature to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights.

The artist told the Journal Sentinel he was “deeply disappointed” by Walker´s decision. Lenz said the move mirrored the governor´s human services budget slashing. 

Another of Lenz´s works, a portrait of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Like “Hoovervilles” of the Great Depression, Wisconsin protestors have built “Walkervilles,” tent encampments protesting  human service and education cuts plus the death of collective bargaining for public employees.

Waker isn´t alone in art purging.

Earlier this year, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, in a commando-like night raid, ordered his minions to remove a state-commissioned mural by Maine painter Judy Taylor. 

A Maine newspaper shows Gov. Paul LePage a man of few words.

At $60,000, it was a bargain for the state and a well received work.

LePage, who bears some resemblance to Mussolini, hid the mural for days in a dark and dank basement below where it previously hung in the state´s department of labor for years, displaying Maine´s history of working class people, you know, the ones who pay the largest proportion of taxes.

I wrote about this and posted on 6 April. I repeat a few bits:

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 the commission through a federal grant to Maine, approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, which now wants its money back.

In another politics of art happening, a French installation protesting global violence (think war) provoked some American right-wingers to weigh in online.

As part of the 6 June, 67th commemoration of the WW  II invasion of Normandy, French artist Rachid Khimoune installed 1,000 casted Russian, German, French and American combat helmets as turtles.

Rachid Khimoune´s 2011anti-war, Normandy Beach, D-day Invasion installation

I suppose it´s because the artist included German helmets?
Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

"This Way Out," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2009)

New ArtTraveler YouTube 11 May video: The Case of the Missing Bronze Grape Picker Statue (and dog). 

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1 comment:

  1. His name is Scott WALKER, not Waker. It is important to get the details correct.