On Thursday, Feb. 18, Maine artists and poets will gather in the Hall of Flags at the State House to offer a solution to drastic budget cuts being faced everywhere. Their message is that overspending on military is the number one cause of the current fiscal crisis, and offers the best hope of a solution to funding problems across the board.

Artist Rob Shetterly, creator of the well-known series of portraits “Americans Who Tell the Truth,” will present the work of more than 40 Maine artists. Shetterly and other artists spent the previous Saturday envisioning positive uses of Maine’s $320,000,000 contribution to the wars each year, creating images and poems that were used by the Maine Union of Visual Artists to make a publication all state legislators will receive via CODEPINK messengers on Feb 18.

Poet Martin Steingesser will perform his poem “Money Medicine” and artists Kenny Cole of Monroe, Nathasha Mayers of Whitefield and others will ask passersby in the Hall of Flags, “What would you do for Maine with the $2.5 billion?” and draw their visions on the spot. By holding the draw-in, the group hopes to call attention to harmful priorities in spending, “using art to thaw the hearts and minds of legislators frozen by fear, budget freezes and draconian cuts.”

Both art events were held as part of a statewide campaign, Bring Our War $$ Home, that launched Jan. 14 with a well-attended news conference at the State House. Health providers, social workers, and educators joined Rep. Peter Stuckey and former State Senator Michael Brennan at that event, calling for a curb on military spending.

The Feb. 18 draw-in is intended to amplify this message with the creative output of Mainers. Other efforts in the campaign include bringing warrants to towns calling for pressure on Maine’s representatives to stop funding war, and a door hanger campaign that will fan out across the state on tax day, April 15. For more information, visit bringourwardollarshome.org and codepink4peace.org.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.