Maine Gov. Paul LePage's proposal to destroy Judy Taylor's mural of Maine labor history in the Maine Department of Labor is an inflammatory attack on the very concept of public art that appears to contradict fundamental concepts of freedom of expression at the heart of American culture.
As the former president of the College Art Association, the nation's largest professional organization for artists and art historians, I strongly encourage the Legislature and the people of Maine to defend public art, and hope that Gov. LePage will reconsider his interests.
There is no example of public art in the United States with which all people will agree. But isn't that exactly the point? Only in a democracy, can people tolerate attitudes, ideas and, yes, art that they do not like or even find repugnant.
Only in authoritarian states do we get a purity test for what constitutes "acceptable" public art.
The public debate about culture and politics that the mural has sparked is a positive example of what art can contribute to a democracy.
The removal of the mural based on political posturing would seem to work against those democratic principles.
Paul Jaskot, Chicago, Ill.