|Derek, Gini, and Harry|
The ARM Art Protest event at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, ME is over, and I am on the bus home. After all of the chaos that came with planning and traveling, I am relieved that the event is completed.
The trip to Portland was a complete disaster. Amtrak sent my luggage to a mill in Richmond. I would love to know how that happened. I arrived in Portland without most of the art for the event. Thankfully, my travelling companion had a half dozen pieces of art, and some entries were photos and graphic arts, so I spent all of Tuesday buying last minute supplies for the event. I had a dozen pieces to work with so it was enough to fill a display.
My travelling companion, Gini, and I stopped by Lowe's to pick up supplies when Gini spotted a 6 foot growling Halloween decoration. Since USM's mascot is a Husky dog, and the werewolf looks kind of like a husky, Gini had the idea we should buy it for the art show. It turned out to be a good idea, since ol’ Harry got a lot of attention. We placed a torn US Constitution in his hands. (One student said it looked like the USM president, others thought it was the mascot.)
Gini and I arrived about 7:30am and started setting up. We were later assisted by Tigger from the sosen.org website. It did not take long before people started stopping to talk to us. The majority of those who stopped listened to us and were open to hearing a viewpoint. I am used to having Tom as my protest partner, and we typically maintain an informal count of yays and nays; the USM attendees were mostly receptive, so mostly yays. There were a couple of nays; one guy drove by twice to shout obscenities, and one woman was triggered by the sign saying shame on USM President Glenn Cummings. She said people should not be shamed, which was ironic given the fact she had just stated she supported the registry.
The rest of the art finally arrived at noon, so I left Gini alone to pick up the package with the art, so Gini had to deal with the lunch crowd alone. She had to deal with a couple of MeToo campus feminists alone but she handled them like a pro. By 12:30, we finally had the rest of the art out for people to see. (Sadly, the diorama and a couple of pics did not survive the trip, thanks to Amtrak mishandling of the luggage.) We stayed out until 4:30pm.
We did not attract any media (except from the USM Free Press, the student newspaper), and Amtrak compromised the entire operation by shipping my luggage to Virginia, but we managed to salvage the operation and make it a success. I could not have done it first and foremost without Gini from SOSEN, who rode the train all weekend to attend. I also want to thank Tigger from SOSEN for helping especially during the busy part of the day. Also, thanks to all the artists and supporters who donated to this project. I hope this has not only inspired fellow activists to engage in more public events, but educate those we have spoken with and broaden their horizons.
More pics from the event: