Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street, where we reached peak caffeination about two hours ago.
What we’re talking about
The LePage mural debacle has gone international. (Literally — the mayor was preparing for an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. when we called earlier.)
What started out as controversial depiction of the governor that even some dyed-in-the-wool Portland liberals thought was too much last night turned into a rapid-fire battle between competing political ideologies on the wall separating a public path from the wastewater treatment facility.
Jake Bleiberg today laid out last night’s events:
[A]round 7 p.m. on Tuesday at least two people who felt the mural went too far in likening Maine’s chief executive to a klansman took up brushes and rollers, and covered the picture of LePage with white paint, according to Emma Sawyer, a 21-year-old University of Southern Maine student who came upon the mural as it was being covered up.
She and a friend had read news reports about the political art and — fed up with the governor — wanted to see the mural for themselves, Sawyer told BDN Portland. But they were dismayed to find part of the mural covered.
“He literally white-washed a piece about racism in government,” said Sawyer of one of the painters, identified by WCSH as Mark Reilly, a LePage supporter.
Finding the paint still wet, Sawyer and her friend began using fallen leaves and wet clothes to uncover the mural — kicking off an argument that was captured in this photo by a WCSH reporter.
Eventually more people joined in uncovering the mural, Sawyer said. …
[L]ater Tuesday evening, someone painted Mickey Mouse ears onto the likeness of the governor and scrawled the message “No hate” in spray paint.
As of 5:30 this evening, the mural still featured LePage in mouse ears.
Another Portland gallery is closing — Kathleen Pierce breaks the news of another gallery closure — this time, it’s 3Fish Gallery on Cumberland Avenue:
Opening 19 years ago on the edge of Portland’s Arts District, before Congress Street had an artistic pulse, the gallery [Ron] Spinella runs with his wife Christine appealed to all walks. Shows ranging from the sculpture of MECA students to art collectives from Waterville, experimental music weekends and everything in between gave 3Fish a freewheeling vibe. …
Spinella doesn’t view the recent spate of closings, such as the June Fitzpatrick Gallery and Susan Maasch Fine Arts as negative, but “normal attrition,” recognizing “at some respect you want to see things change.”
Without evidence, let’s move on from speculation on LePage’s health — Mike Shepherd writes:
Though LePage has denied it, lawmakers in both parties have openly questioned if the governor has mental health or substance abuse issues after his obscene voicemail to a Democratic lawmaker who criticized LePage for comments on black and Hispanic drug traffickers.
This criticism reached a fever pitch on Sunday, when the Portland Press Herald published an op-ed arguing that LePage had substance abuse issues. It was criticized roundly by many, including media types like me and a handful of Democrats. The Press Herald then removed it, saying it “should not have been published” and “did not meet our standards.”
The City Council gets an opening act — Starting tonight, City Council meetings will begin with a performance by a local artist.
According to a city news release:
The effort, which will highlight Portland poets, artists, performers, and musicians in a short, three-to five-minute showcase at the beginning of the meeting, is intended to both highlight Portland’s vibrant creative community as well as serve as an inspirational kickoff to Council business.
“I know I can speak for my colleagues on the Council to say that we are incredibly proud of the deep wellspring of talent that we have in every corner of our city,” said Mayor Ethan Strimling. “Aside from giving our local arts community a few moments to shine, it is my hope that Arts in the Chamber will also be uplifting to my colleagues, the attendees of our meetings at City Hall, and those watching on television or online.”
A city spokeswoman says artists won’t be paid for their performances, so they’d presumably be doing it for exposure, or maybe out of a sense of civic duty. As a former touring bass player, I’d hope councilors at least let musicians set up a merch table.
The first performance — Portland Symphony Orchestra cellist Bill Round — was slated for tonight’s meeting at 5 pm.
The Big Idea
From lawn signs to TV spots, this election is just starting to ramp up — Even though it feels like the 2016 campaign season kicked off in 1996, now’s the time when you can start expecting to see more lawn signs and political ads. Chris Cousins has this “primer on the state of state politics today.”
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at email@example.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.
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