FARMINGTON — The mural “Mainers” was reinstalled Monday on the wall of Java Joe’s Corner Cafe by street artist Pigeon.

The weather and vandalism had taken a toll on the mural facing Church Street which celebrates diversity in our communities, said Sarah Maline, associate professor of art history/gallery director at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Pigeon, also known as Orson Horchler, created the wall mural featuring faces of a diverse group of Mainers as part of the Water Bear Confabulum held in the fall of 2015. The event brought artists into the alleyways of downtown Farmington.

The second Water Bear Confabulum was recently held in Farmington despite inclement weather, Maline said.

The theme of the portraits of the diverse group of people is “belonging,” Pigeon said as he smoothed the wrinkles from the posters. The posters are glued to the wall and covered in paste, which creates a protective but temporary covering.

Pigeon’s awareness that people feel like they don’t belong began in his youth. His work is based on his personal experiences of not belonging, he said.

Born in the United States, he moved to France when he was 4 years old, he said. It was a move to an inner city neighborhood that evoked violence and depression.

“A place where no one felt they belonged,” he said.

When he came back to Maine, he met a lot of resistance, struggled at his job site and was even punched in the stomach, he said with just the slightest French accent. After 911, he felt even more isolated, he said.

As Maine becomes a place with a more diverse group of citizens, Pigeon began to consider who is a real Mainer and why people may feel like they don’t belong, he said.

He has come to the conclusion that not belonging is something felt worldwide, he said.

Through his work, Pigeon “aims to incite community by confronting the attitudes, rhetoric, institutions and laws that prevent us from feeling at home in the place we live,” according to his website.

“Pigeon started the MAINER Project in June 2015 when the Governor of Maine threatened to ignore Federal Law and deny General Assistance to asylum-seekers. Today the Project has taken a much broader dimension as so many people in Maine have reacted viscerally to Pigeon’s posters,” according to the website.

When people are told they have no right to use the word Mainer — who does have the right to call themselves a Mainer? he asked.

Java Joe’s owner Tom Hildreth thought this was a really important time to put the mural back up, Manager Andrew Keirnz said of recent political actions and comments.

Java Joe’s Corner Cafe commissioned the restoration work on its wall, Maline said.

Pigeon began working in Bangor five years ago and now lives in Portland. The MAINER Project has taken him all over Maine.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: