June 21, 2018
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No, that’s not the missing labor mural in Blue Hill

By Mario Moretto, BDN Staff

BLUE HILL, Maine — The location of the now controversial 11-panel Maine labor history mural may still be a mystery, but Down East residents can see the next best thing at the Blue Hill Public Library.

A full-scale replica of the mural, curated by Maryland artist and curator Nancy Nesvet, arrived at the library last week.

The real mural was painted by Southwest Harbor artist Judy Taylor, who was commissioned by the state to create a mural depicting Maine’s labor history. The mural hung at the Maine Department of Labor until March 2011, when Gov. Paul LePage had it removed for being too pro-labor.

This year, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to have the mural reinstated, and the case remains under appeal.

LePage has declined to let anyone in on the mural’s current whereabouts, and some unsuspecting patrons at the Blue Hill Library have thought they had stumbled upon the genuine article.

“They look pretty convincing,” said library director Rich Boulet.

Boulet said that while the real mural is embroiled in controversy, the library is not making a political statement by hosting the replica.

“My hope is that people would see that this is what libraries do: We shine light,” he said Tuesday. “It sounds kind of corny, but I hope we’re cutting the politics and ignoring them entirely to share a local artist’s work that was very much in the news.”

Other library patrons, however, have stronger opinions. John Miller of Blue Hill said he’s happy the library has the panel reproductions, but he would like to see the original mural back on the Labor Department’s walls.

“Labor is the foundation of our society,” he said. “When it’s dismissed as easily as it was, we need to question that. I’d like to see it put back.”

Judith Hauer of Brooksville said she hoped that once people see the mural, they will realize that there’s nothing offensive or lopsided about it.

“I’m glad they’re here so people can see for themselves that these are just great works of art,” she said.

The library will host Taylor at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6. The artist will give a talk about her work and the national controversy surrounding the mural.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

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