Art and Activism

Fine art may not be the first thing everyone thinks of when they’re enjoying Labor Day.  But from Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry Murals, to the thousands of Depression-era WPA murals, to Maine’s own Judy Taylor’s Labor History Mural, artists and labor activists have long united to work toward common goals.

This Friday, the Maine Irish Heritage Center will celebrate the intersection of art and activism with its First Friday Art Walk event.  The event, at St. Dominic’s Church on the corner of State and Gray Streets in Portland, will showcase live music and a panel discussion related to the activism surrounding the Maine Labor Mural.

The event, running from 5:00-8:00 p.m., will feature art inspired by the labor movement and other workers’ issues.  On display will be life-size silk banner recreations of the Maine Labor Mural panels; photographs by Guy Saldnaha, Maine based documentary photographer; original art created by labor activist and artist Gail Wartell, who will be on hand to discuss her art and politics; and a series of banners recently produced by the Union of Maine Visual Artists, ARRT! (Artists Rapid Response Team) that deal with the issues of healthcare as a human right.

At 6:30 p.m., there will be a panel discussion featuring Bernard Fishman, director of the Maine State Museum which now displays the Maine Labor Mural; Jeffrey Young, lead attorney in the mural lawsuit; local Maine artist Robert Shetterly who was one of the plaintiffs in the mural lawsuit; Gail Wartell, labor activist and artist; and Peter Kellman, labor activist and historian.

The event is free and open to all – hope to see you there!  Happy Labor Day from McTeague Higbee.

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