Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker has recently come under fire after the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that he and first lady Tonette Walker had removed a painting of underprivileged children from his Executive Residence.
The painting, entitled Wishes in the Wind, was created by David Lenz, who carefully chose the children in the painting. He described his choices to The Journal-Sentinel:
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 Walkers replaced the image, which had hung above their fireplace, with an image of Old Abe, a Civil War-era bald eagle from Wisconsin. The eagle is part of a Civil War-themed collection now on display at the Executive Residence, shown in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the war.
Walker, who has spent the beginning of his first term seeking union reform and cutting funding for education and social services, claimed only the best intentions. A press release from the Executive Residence explains,
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.
Historian John Gurda, vice chairman of the Central Library's Board of Trustees, however, acknowledged the sticky situation his organization faced, saying, "My point of view is this is not the Walkers' house, this is Wisconsin's house. This was commissioned by an organization that was there long before Scott Walker came in and will be there long after he is gone."