Shorewood Artist Pleased with New Location for Controversial Painting
Oil painting of children taken down at governor's mansion to be displayed at Milwaukee Public Library.
A Shorewood artist's oil painting that triggered public outcry after being taken down at the governor’s mansion has found a new home in Milwaukee.
“Wishes in the Wind,” by David Lenz, depicts three children of different races playing together along a snowy sidewalk. In early August, it will be relocated to the Milwaukee Public Library's central library, at 814 W. Wisconsin Ave.
“I met with the library director and we picked out a really nice spot on the first floor,” said Lenz. “It’s a very high traffic area and they’re going to fix a light for it. It will be open and accessible to the public during regular library hours.”
The painting was removed from its perch above a fireplace mantel and replaced by a painting of the bald eagle Old Abe, a Wisconsin military mascot during the Civil War. Gov. Scott Walker was criticized for the move and it sparked national attention that surprised Lenz.
“Yes, that was pretty wild,” said Lenz. “I guess that’s because it’s associated with Governor Walker and he’s such a national figure now, such a polarizing figure, that it seems that anything that is associated with him is almost certain to become national news.”
Lenz said public support for the painting has been largely split along political party lines.
“It’s kind of interesting the way it’s broken down,” said Lenz. “If you like the image, you don’t support Governor Walker, and if you do support Governor Walker, then somehow you think the painting is bad or it’s cheesy.”
Lenz summed up his whole experience this way.
“Just very disappointing. I tried really hard to make a painting that would appeal to everyone,” Lenz said. “I spent a long time on it and it didn’t work out. Hopefully, some day it can go back.”