Working Papers

Domino’s Strikers Again Choose the Cold Over Surrender, While Labor Celebrates Some Victories and a Painter-Hero

In business for less than three years, the Working Families Party, an effort launched by community organizers and progressive labor unions, has now leapfrogged over the Liberal, Right to Life, and Independent/Reform parties in numbers of votes. Yet, other than in City Limits Weekly, the party's achievement remains unheralded by the press. Instead, the media remains enthralled by Liberal boss Harding as he blows smoke and tilts his mirrors.

Ralph Fasanella: Painter and Picketer

The late union organizer and painter Ralph Fasanella was built like a fireplug and talked like an unreformed member of the Bowery Boys. The son of an ice vendor and a sweatshop seamstress, Fasanella grew up on Sullivan Street in Little Italy. His enlistment in the cause of labor took him to the Spanish Civil War and then to the McCarthy-era blacklist, while his midlife discovery of painting made his restless fingers sketch and paint everything from strikes to Coney Island.

Now, health workers union Local 1199, guided by its esteemed cultural director, Moe Foner, has honored Fasanella, who died in 1997 at age 83, by filling its ground-floor gallery with 16 of his paintings. Among them are murals depicting the Watergate years, the 1912 Lawrence, Massachusetts, strike, and his brothers' Bronx service station, where Fasanella was pumping gas in 1972, when New York magazine called him the "best primitive painter since Grandma Moses."

The exhibit is open through December at the Bread and Roses/1199 Gallery, 310 West 43rd Street, weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fasanella, who insisted that his art was "not for some rich guy's living room," would be pleased.

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