Walker Removes Painting of Homeless/Low-Income Children from Gov.’s Mansion

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) apparently doesn't want to be reminded of the people who will feel the sting of his budget cuts.

It was revealed last week that Walker, who is proposing budget cuts in education and vital social services—many to low-income family programs—ordered removed from the governor's mansion a painting of three Milwaukee children that the artist says he meant to remind governors how their policies impact children around the state.

In an e-mail to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice, artist David Lenz says:

I guess that was a conversation Gov. Walker did not want to have.

This is the second time this year a governor has removed art from a public building. In March, Maine Gov. Paul LaPage (R) ordered a labor history mural taken down.

The foundation that runs the Wisconsin governor's mansion commissioned Lenz and other Wisconsin artists for work to place in the mansion that would remind state leaders of the people they represent. Bice writes:

Lenz said he carefully selected the three children portrayed in "Wishes in the Wind." The African American girl, featured in a Journal Sentinel column on homelessness, spent three months at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission with her mother. The Hispanic girl is a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. And the boy's father and brother were killed by a drunken driver in 2009.

"The homeless, central city children and victims of drunk drivers normally do not have a voice in politics," Lenz explained in an email. "This painting was an opportunity for future governors to look these three children in the eye, and I hope, contemplate how their public policies might affect them and other children like them."

When the story broke, Walker's office released a statement that said the first family was simply redecorating the floor.

The Walker administration says it is working out an arrangement with the Milwaukee Public library to display the painting. John Gurda, vice chairman of the library's Board of Trustees, told Bice that Walker should have realized the reaction removal of the painting would draw.

This is indicative of that tone-deafness. My point of view is this is not the Walkers' house, this is Wisconsin's house. This was commissioned by an organization that was there long before Scott Walker came in and will be there long after he is gone.

afl-cio now blog, Mon Jun 6 2011

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