“Fourth Estate” by Ellen Meeropol

I first saw the painting 30 years ago, when I walked into friends’ tenth floor apartment on Manhattan’s upper west side. My children immediately hurried to the large window, excited by the sight of the Clearwater sloop sailing down the Hudson River. I stood in front of a large painting hung on the white wall above a white sofa.

On the canvas, a crowd of strikers walk towards the viewer. Three figures lead the march: two men and a woman carrying an infant. The workers are rendered in grays and browns, beige and mud greens. Many of them gesture emphatically with their hands, as if we’ve interrupted their discussion about demands and tactics. The earth tones, and the similarity of their clothing and stance, pulled me into their close group, committed and steadfast.

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