It’s a painting that was placed in the Wisconsin Governor’s mansion for a reason – to remind the leaders, whoever he or she might be, of their obligation to the homeless and the poor people of the state. Scott Walker, the Republican governor who recently tried to enact a bill to dismantle collective bargaining rights of the Wisconsin public worker, had the painting removed.
The painting called, Wishes in the Wind, was done by Wisconsin artist David Lenz. It depicts three children – one African-American, one Hispanic and one Caucasian – playing with bubble wands on a Milwaukee street. Lenz explained that he carefully chose the characters in the piece because of the importance of their life stories. The African-American girl was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an article done about homelessness. She and her mother spent three months at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. The Caucasian boy’s father was killed by a drunk driver in 2009 and the Hispanic girl is a member of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee.
Governor Walker’s decision to remove the painting sent a strong message to Lenz. He said
“The homeless, central city children and victims of drunk drivers normally do not have a voice in politics, this painting was an opportunity for future governors to look these three children in the eye, and I hope, contemplate how their public policies might affect them and other children like them.”
I guess that was a conversation Governor Walker did not want to have.”
And in a direct reference to Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts in state’s funding for Milwaukee schools services, Lenz said, “This seems symbolic, you would think we could all agree on the need to support the hopes and dreams of children.”
Walker’s excuse for removing the painting? In a press released, this explanation was given;
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Governor Scott Walker and First Lady Tonette Walker are pleased to announce the addition of Civil War themed artwork and artifacts to decorate the interior of Wisconsin’s Executive Residence.
The painting Wishes in the Wind, which was previously on display in the Drawing Room, is on loan to the Central Library in Milwaukee where 560,000 visitors each year will see it, learn about its significance and continue the discussion about providing hope and optimism for the least privileged in our society. By comparison, the Executive Residence hosts approximately 15,000 visitors each year.