During 2011 many New Englanders proudly demonstrated their disdain for local art and historical treasures, but the following three examples stand out as the most blatant and loutish examples of the year.
Maine governor seriptitiously removes labor mural In March, Republican Maine Governor Paul LePage ordered the removal of a mural depicting Maine’s labor history (detail pictured above) from the state’s Department of Labor office. He called the painting too “one-sided” — i.e. too pro workers. Judy Taylor of Mount Desert Island, Maine, painted the 36-foot public artwork for the lobby of the labor department’s Augusta offices in 2008 after she won a commission from the Maine Arts Commission to depict the “History of Labor in the State of Maine.” The governor was so proud of his decision that he had the painting secretly removed from the office and hidden one March weekend. LePage’s unilateral moves earned him widespread derision, though he retains support in Maine and he’s not backed down. The mural has been kept in hiding while a lawsuit seeking to get the mural returned is winding its way through the courts.
Gloucester historical museum demolishes historic house In August, the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts, demolished the two-century-old Federal style Pierce-Haskell House in Gloucester to create a parking lot. The museum acquired the rundown property (Xed out above), which stood on Pleasant Street between the museum and Gloucester’s City Hall, in 2001 and let it fall into further decline, while the institution fought lawsuits from preservationists seeking to protect the house. Perhaps this explains why in recent years the museum dropped its previous name: the Cape Ann Historical Association.
Carl Andre public art threatened in Hartford Over the summer it became clear that the iQuilt Plan, a proposed major expansion of Bushnell Park in Hartford, Connecticut, included plans to alter minimalist sculptor Carl Andre’s 1977 “Stone Field Sculpture” (pictured above). The proposal would rearrange some of Andre’s lines of 36 boulders on a downtown lawn and run water through part of the artwork. Discussions about the proposal continue, including a presentation of the plan scheduled for Jan. 10 at the Hartford Public Library.