Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, and his wife, Tonette Walker, earlier this year had a specially commissioned painting removed from the Governor's mansion. The painting, an incredibly lifelike scene of three Milwaukee children playing together, was one of many works commissioned by the Executive Residence Foundation, which runs the mansion.
The children, one black, one white, and one Hispanic, are depicted blowing bubbles on the sidewalk of a snowy Milwaukee street. The painting was placed in the mansion's drawing room just last November but is now going to be shipped back to Milwaukee and loaned indefinitely to the Milwaukee Public Library.
The renowned artist, David Lenz, said that he was deeply disappointed by the decision of the Governor and the First Lady. The subjects of the painting are based on the lives of real children. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which also has an image of the painting:
In an interview, Lenz said he carefully selected the three children portrayed in "Wishes in the Wind." The African-American girl, featured in a Journal Sentinel column on homelessness, spent three months at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission with her mother. The Hispanic girl is a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. And the boy's father and brother were killed by a drunken driver in 2009.
"The homeless, central city children and victims of drunk drivers normally do not have a voice in politics," Lenz explained in an email. "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."
He added: "I guess that was a conversation Governor Walker did not want to have."
The Governor's staff quickly issued a press release after being told of Lenz's remarks. The press release states that the mansion has been redecorated to recognize the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and suggests that the new painting will get more exposure in Milwaukee.
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.
"Wishes in the Wind" was replaced by a portrait of "Old Abe", a bald eagle kept by Wisconsin soldiers as a mascot for many years.
Milwaukee Alderman Nik Kovak, a member of the board of the Milwaukee Public Library, confirmed that the painting "Wishes in the Wind" will be displayed at the library's central, downtown branch. Kovak also stated the obvious:
But in truth, Kovac said, the people of Milwaukee don't need a Lenz painting to be reminded of the importance of Milwaukee children. He said the work would have served a greater purpose in Madison.
Exactly. Go back to Milwaukee where you belong, kids. Go back to the homeless shelter and the Boys and Girls Club. Go back to your decimated families and neighborhoods. Scott Walker and his wife have nothing for you. They have a civil war to wage.
UPDATE 11:36 AM CDT: Based on a comment below, I looked again at the Guv's press release. It states the following "The Civil War era artwork and artifacts displayed in the Executive Residence are on loan by the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, at no cost to taxpayers."
Uhhh...The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is operated by the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Wisconsin Historical Society receives most of its funding from the State of Wisconsin. To suggest that displaying the Civil War artifacts costs the taxpayers nothing is .... well, wrong.
The painting removed from the Governor's mansion by the Walkers, on the other hand, was paid for with private donations.
I'm just sayin'