Mural

The mural photo used by those who started a petition against it blacked over the objectional parts. (from change.org)

Counter petition to keep the mural touches a nerve

LYNDEN — More than 1,700 have signed a counter petition defending the mural in the Post Office lobby. Community reaction was strong last week to the original petition started by Joshua and Dana Parriera of Lynden to do away with or mute the 77-year-old mural that depicts topless Native American women at the arrival of town matriarch Phoebe Judson on the Nooksack River around 1870. 

Most responses to the original petition on Facebook have been negative, with many people voicing support of the mural, believing it should remain as is in the Post Office. 

“This mural dates from 1942 so that art would be available to everyone,” the support petition states.”In over 70 years of this mural being at the Post Office, there still isn’t a pandemic of pornography in our town ... there is no reason to make an issue out of this historic mural, let alone deface it.” 

The mural, titled “Three Ages of Phoebe Goodell Judson,” portrays the so-called Mother of Lynden’s arrival by canoe on the Nooksack and on to directing thriving community industry. 

The mural was painted by Mordi Gassner of New York as part of a 1933-43 New Deal program to support artists suffering in the Great Depression. 

The Parrieras, who also claim an organization International Saints and Abolitionists, had 26 signatures on their petition a week ago and now have 44 signatures on change.org.

The counter petition on Monday had more than 1,700 signatures, also on change.org.

Jade Nevitt, manager of Post Office Operations Area 2 in the western United States, responded to Joshua and Dana back in February, as they started their drive, saying the mural is in line with policy of the General Services Administration, which manages federal properties, including historic artwork. 

The General Services Administration Fine Arts Policies and Procedures state “adverse public opinion … does not justify the relocation, covering from public view, or removal of artwork.” 

Many comments on Facebook urged people to simply not look at the mural if it bothered them. One comment was “Tell them to stop looking. They can think whatever they want. I love the historical aspects of this piece. It tells the story of the founding of Lynden. Life hasn’t always been cute and sweet — and clothed — for all generations. How disrespectful to that Native American woman to challenge her customs and discriminate against her rights in that time and place. She’s portrayed as a proud member of the community.”

The counter petition was begun by Maria Risener, a worker in the Lynden Post Office.