In solidarity with the International Women's Strike, here are portraits of two incredible women. CJ Brune, who passed in 2015, was one of the original February Sisters and a lifelong activist who I was lucky to know as a friend and mentor. My mom Pamela, still alive and kicking, is pictured on her soap box fighting, as she has her whole life, for women's rights and social justice.
On September 20, 2007 the Pollinators mural was dedicated at Lawrence Farmers Market. On March 6, 2015 it was destroyed. And this week, two years after it came down, and spurred by a remarkable community effort to ensure it would return, we celebrate the germination of the Re-Imagined Pollinators!
This is new territory for me. I have restored old murals, “Seeds” at 9th & Mississippi and “1000 Miles Away” at Cordley Elementary to name a couple. I’ve also lost a few to time and changing priorities, but I’ve never reimagined a mural. Diego Rivera famously recreated his “Man at the Crossroads” at Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City after J.D. Rockefeller Jr. tore down the original in New York. The dispute with the monopolist oil magnate centered around a portrait of the Russian leader Lenin which Rivera made sure to include in the recreated version.
The tension between an artist’s politics, a patron’s power and the persistence to tell one’s story in full are all part of what make the process of creating public art so dynamic and democratic. And this story of destruction and resurrection is something that our new design team is keeping in mind as we explore out how to tell the next chapter of the Pollinators.
I am supported on this project by the incredible mural team of: Nedra Bonds, a nationally recognized quilter who’s work is currently on view at the EthnicArt Gallery in Kansas City; Janada Birdling, a Lawrence High School senior who has worked on murals at the Ballard center and at the Full Circle Youth Program; and Eugene Sarmiento, a first year printmaking grad student who has worked alongside the Sour Grapes graffiti crew in Dallas and is currently an intern at the Spencer Museum.
We are joined by an equally committed and creative team of volunteers from the community who are integral to our being able to see the potential of our project from many points of view. They include local artists, folks from Farmers Market and the Spencer Museum, in addition to passionate residents who want to help shape the community they live in. I am grateful for their work and willingness to give their time to this project. And this project would not be possible without the leadership of the Spencer Museum of Art and especially Curator of European and American Art, Susan Earle. You can keep up to date with the Re-Imagined Pollinators on our facebook page, and all are welcome to stop by our workshops to see the process as it unfolds.
With the latest news that even public hospitals may not be exempt from having concealed guns in every waiting room, it is imperative that we stop this slide into violent ideology, now. Students, faculty and staff from KU and across the state have made their voices loud and clear on this issue – They DO NOT want concealed carry on campus. It's time we support them. Please join others in condemning and stopping this dangerous and irresponsible legislation before it’s too late.
Last year I got to work with folks in Toledo, Ohio on a small mural for the Frederick Douglass Community Center. We chose to include his quote, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." In light of recent events, these words have an added meaning for me today. The broken men are the president and his gang of ignorant scoundrels.