Locked away in an undisclosed location, Judy Taylor’s “history of Maine labor” mural is anything but a traveling piece of art.

But a replica of the mural seems to be permanently on the move.

It will make its next stop in Massachusetts, where the Lawrence History Center will include it for a few weeks during a year-long retrospective on that city’s 1912 textile workers strike — known as the “bread and roses” strike for the demands of women strikers that they deserved both of those items.

The replica of the mural — made from photographs taken of the panels that depict key moments in Maine’s labor history — will be on display at the Everett Mill in Lawrence from April 22 to May 6, Tuesdays through Sundays. On April 28, a panel discussion will use the mural as the centerpiece in a conversation about controversies surrounding public art.

The mural, which had been displayed in a waiting room of the Maine Department of Labor in Augusta, was ordered removed a year ago by Gov. Paul LePage, R-Maine, who said a “secret admirer” sent a fax complaining that the artwork was too pro-labor.

Last month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit which sought to have the mural reinstalled. The judge ruled that LePage had acted under constitutionally protected “government speech” in removing the mural.

The replica, created free of charge by Portland Color, has been displayed along with some of Taylor’s other work at a show in Rockville, Md., and at the AFL-CIO’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Curator Nancy Nesvet, who put together the Maryland display, said she jumped at the chance when officials from the Lawrence center asked about showing the replica as part of the Lawrence strike centennial.

She said the Lawrence strike helped spur other labor activity throughout New England and said there are parallels between it and a shoeworkers strike in Maine in 1937 — which is illustrated in one of the mural’s panels.

Nesvet said that history of labor activism should be embraced by Mainers, rather than put under wraps.

“This is a history that we’re proud of,” she said. “The unions were partially responsible, but it was Maine that was awarding these (labor) rights.”

Nesvet said LePage has done Taylor’s work a favor by removing it from display. She said a handful of people saw it every day at the labor office, but the replica is being seen by far more as it moves around the country.

“I’ve said to people across the board that I really should be writing a letter of thanks to Gov. LePage,” said Nesvet. “We’re going to get to the point where maybe a million people will see this mural and that is thanks to Gov. LePage taking it down.”

The mural, she said, sparks interest in the events that are depicted, “so we’re completing the mission that Judy tried to do in making the murals.”

Taylor said she’s turned down requests to reproduce sections of the mural on T-shirts, coffee mugs, even coasters. Creating a replica, she said, may be the closest people will come to see the mural as she intended it.

“I really want people to see the painting, but given the nature of things, I’m not sure anybody will be able to view it,” Taylor said.

Taylor won’t be able to attend the panel discussion because she will be teaching a small class of art students in Italy at the time.

The panel discussion will take place on April 28 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Everett Mill. The panelists scheduled to take part are Don Berry, president of the Maine AFL-CIO; Laura Fortman, a former Maine Labor Department commissioner and director of the Frances Perkins Center in Newcastle; artist Karen van Welden-Herman; and Stephanie Yuhl, an associate professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.


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