Revolution #104, October 14, 2007

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Mural Tour Raises Funds for $500,000 Fund Drive—

What’s Your Creative Way to Raise Funds?

Revolution received this correspondence:

A great day for a fundraiser!!! The first day of fall, the sunshine was brilliant and bright like it is in fall. A local muralist who has been conducting guided tours of murals led a mural tour in a Midwestern Mexican neighborhood known for its murals and art to benefit the Revolution newspaper half-million-dollar expansion and fund drive.

A woman printed up tickets, and then the word got out through friends and email. The excitement about the tour was in the air. We met at a Mexican art museum—where our guide invited us to sit in an installation of an authentic Mexican kitchen/living room. As we waited for everyone to gather, he invited everyone into his “office.”

About 30 of us took this tour, making a donation to the fund drive. We raised $656. The people who came to the tour were a real mix of ages, backgrounds and interests. There was a young high school Spanish teacher who took copious notes about the murals so she could tell her students about this art. There was a filmmaker in the process of doing a film on progressive writers, two college students of photography who contributed photos of the tour, some health care professionals, and Drive Out the Bush Regime activists.

Our guide took us on a walking tour, explaining the mural movement as a very political movement. It is about public art in the public space. He explained how it is not like painting on a canvas and that the muralist utilizes the existing architecture, bricks, fences and gates and they often become part of the mural and the story. The first mural was Gulliver reclined and wrapped in barbed wire. According to our guide, Gulliver was a metaphor for the sleeping giant of the immigrant masses who were fenced in by barbed wire. At first, as this figure wove around and was incorporated into the architecture of the house, it was hard to make out what it was, and an analogy was made about how the figure blends into the landscape and this is also true for the Mexican people today in the U.S. We saw this sleeping giant awaken during the immigrant rights marches of 2006. He explained to us how the people in the neighborhood got involved in determining how the murals would look. In one mural the woman is big and strong—she symbolizes all women, and the women in the neighborhood wanted her to be painted big and strong not skinny and weak.

In response to the question, why did he contribute to the fund drive in this way, the tour guide said, “Revolution newspaper gives us news that other newspapers don’t, like Jena, in ways that the regular news doesn’t go into. It is a well-informed paper and I want to help with the fundraiser. Art and politics goes together and so this is a good vehicle for the fund drive.”

After the walk people gathered in a local restaurant to socialize and discuss the fund drive to raise half a million dollars for Revolution newspaper. Several of the participants had just returned from the historic march in Jena, Louisiana, and this became a topic of discussion, including the role of the newspaper in sending reporters there since July to really get the truth and get it out, popularize the plans for the September 20 march on Jena. Some plans were discussed for how the fund drive could blossom out more and get more people introduced to the paper, including some professionals who began developing a plan to host the reporters Alice Woodward and Hank Brown for a fundraiser. Packets were passed out to all, and a free-standing display had been created for the event by a supporter for the paper, including with ideas for $100 clubs and creative ways to raise a half million dollars and introduce more people to the paper.

Discussion continued while we ate. One person wanted to discuss what was holding people back from acting in the climate of today. She said that fear was created to keep people from acting to stop all the outrages—the war, the racism. The question of the role of the youth was also posed. A student proudly told how the students on her campus involved with World Can’t Wait and Latino Alliance had united to stop a right-wing Republican group from organizing activities including a “treasure hunt to catch an illegal immigrant.”

Altogether it was a great event—one person commented that all the people were so interesting and that she had never been to this neighborhood before although she had grown up in this city all her life. She had no idea about the wonderful art here and wanted to find out much more about the newspaper that she had just recently been introduced to. Along with the $656 raised for the paper, we came up with potential new ideas for more funds to be followed up.

Here’s a challenge. Does any lover of the arts/reader of Revolution want to match the funds that the muralist raises with these tours? At least one more tour is planned.

Send us your comments.

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