LEWISTON, Maine — A large-scale replica of the Maine Department of Labor mural, which was removed from the state office by Gov. Paul LePage, will be viewed Saturday night at a candidates night and supper organized by Lewiston Democrats.
However, Democrats insist the controversial mural is displayed for historical rather than political reasons.
“It’s artwork, and I know there are people that have never seen it. I for one,” said Richard Grandmaison, who is organizing the event at the Franco-American Heritage Center. “I thought that was a good idea to attract people to a bean supper.”
Party leaders hope to draw at least 200 people to the event, which is slated to include visits by local Democratic candidates for the state House and state Senate, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Dill.
The event is scheduled for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $5 in advance, $7 at the door and free for children under 8.
The general public is welcome.
“We don’t want this to be political,” he said. “We really want to show people what this mural looks like.”
At 33 feet long and 7 feet tall, the replica is nearly as big as the 36- by 8-foot original that hung in Augusta. Artist Judy Taylor created the prints to display her work last year at an art show in Bethesda, Md.
“She loaned them to us,” Don Berry, president of the Maine AFL-CIO, said. “They are pieces of Maine history, especially in the Lewiston area.”
The mural is comprised of 11 panels. Individual panels portray shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works, union members voting by secret ballot, striking paper workers in Jay, a cobbler with an apprentice and textile workers.
LePage said the panels portrayed a “one-sided” portrait of labor in Maine. They were removed in March 2011.
“They’re not displayed for political purposes,” said Berry, whose organization criticized LePage’s removal. “They’re educational. That’s really what we’re using them for.”