Detail from current sculpture that is in progress (completion expected this month!)
by Shanna Wheelock
Sadly, the other media attention that Maine has been getting is not a joke either (oh how I wish it was!!!)
By only 38% of the vote, Paul LePage was elected governor of our state. He took office three months ago and since that time has continued to stir controversy with his demeaning language and archaic "roll-back-the-progress" approach.
I am proud to live in Maine, an environmental gem of a state, full of pride, hard workers, and a rich history in the arts. Even with all the hoopla that folks are seeing in the national news, I hope they remember that Maine is more than this one person on a power-trip who is seemingly trying to tear us down.
I have lived here all my life except for one year in the south. The one year that I spent away from my birth-state, I longed to return. Luckily, my California-blooded, philosopher/poet-husband was on-board with the move northeast. No regrets, and we count our blessings everyday to live in a place that is so majestically beautiful.
Here are some of Maine's highlights:
Mountains, fields, lakes, rivers, forests, ocean, desert, bogs, islands.....Hiking, fishing, skiing, kayaking, camping....museums, galleries, theaters, live music.....spring, summer, fall, winter....music and art festivals, county fairs....fine dining and "wicked good" diners....shopping (malls or quaint downtowns)....
And most importantly...a diverse and interesting mix of people who openly share their cultures and passions.
Maine lures people from all types of backgrounds. The inspiration found in the natural environment, as well as osmosis from being around other cool folks, brings us here and keeps us here.
Our state boasts an impressive list of artists, both past and present. Visit the Portland Museum of Art, Farnsworth Art museum, or any number of galleries to view historical master works and work by the up-and-comers.
To name just a few of the visual artists who have found inspiration in Maine:
Andrew Wyeth, Neil Welliver, Marseden Hartley, Louise Nevelson, Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, Fairfield Porter, and Georgia O'Keeffe.
If you want to view some of the contemporary works by artists who are creating here, visit the PMA biennial this spring. I am especially excited to see the work of two artists in this exhibit whom I admire: my former sculpture professor from USM, Michael Shaughnessy, and my current mentor in my MFA program at Heartwood College of Art, Kim Bernard.
And now let me tell you why I am so damn proud, more so than ever, to be an artist in Maine.
When LePage took it upon himself to remove Judy Taylor's mural about the labor history in Maine from the Department of Labor, artists spoke-up, loudly!
I am grateful to Natasha Mayers and Robert Shetterly for helping to organize the movement to return the mural to its intended home, for bridging the arts community with other workplace and cultural organizations, for working tirelessly to "right" LePage's wrongdoing, and for inspiring so many others to have a voice and to fight for what they believe in.
LePage has attacked on several fronts, but this time he picked a fight with the wrong group of folks. Most people who know artists know of their intelligence, ability to conjure creative solutions, intense passion, heightened sense of ethics, justice, pride, and empathy for humanity. Top this off with resiliency and a steadfast streak of tenacity...and you have a recipe for a movement that can, and will, put our state back on course.
Like so many other places in our world right now, Maine people are rising-up to preserve dignity and pride; in the workplace, in the home, in our souls. It's a battle worth fighting, and we won't give up!
Press-Conference and Rally to Return the Labor Mural
Monday, April 4, 2011, 12:00 p.m. noon
Hall of Flags, State House, Augusta, Maine
for an impressive list of speakers go to: http://mainelabormural.blogspot.com/2011/04/update-to-sponsors-and-speakers-april-4_02.html
Labor Mural official website
Maine's Majority Website