“Since so many of the original values the company was founded on no longer exist, it is a horrible culture and nothing feels good about going to work anymore.” — Anonymous L.L.Bean worker, August 12, 2019, indeed.com

In Maine, we still like to think of L.L.Bean as the little homespun 24-7 store where, when we showed up at 2 a.m. on a late-night joyride to one of the only open places in the state, an old man would be nodding off at the register. But while L.L.Bean still generally enjoys a pretty good reputation for its working conditions in Maine, online employee reviews of the company show that numerous employees of this billion-dollar, multinational corporation aren’t so thrilled. Between L.L.Bean’s growing reliance on workers toiling in other countries and its newfound embrace of environmentally costly products meant to last merely a season or two, should we really feel a sense of Maine pride in L.L.Bean anymore?

L.L.Bean recently got the green light to sell its products in Rockland’s Buoy Park for two days in mid-August. In Steve Betts’ article in the Courier-Gazette, “L.L.Bean to pop up in Rockland,” City Manager Tom Luttrell was quoted saying that there is “technically no fee” to use the park since the park isn’t being closed off for it. Many Rocklanders were alarmed to think that L.L.Bean, with its yearly revenue of $1.6 billion, could sell its goods in a public park, for free, while small, local food trucks pay $3,000 per season. But something might have been lost in translation, or maybe the city’s policies need to be revisited, because Luttrell told me that another part of the city policy says the fee is $850 a day for this type of park usage. Meanwhile, L.L.Bean is now receiving accolades for “generously” paying — it’s even being described as “donating” — $1,000 per day. But isn’t this whole endeavor, in which L.L.Bean will set up pop-up shops around the state (ostensibly to draw customers to local businesses), in part, just a profit-making PR stunt for L.L.Bean?

We also have to talk about Linda Bean, who is one-tenth of L.L.Bean’s board of directors and a longtime supporter and champion of fiercely right-wing causes. She served on the boards of the Christian Coalition and Phyllis Schlafly’s bigoted and explicitly anti-gay Eagle Forum. In 1995, she ran into federal election ethics issues when she allegedly gave more than the legal limit to Concerned Maine Families, a group whose goal was to deny basic human rights protections to LGBTQI-people in Maine. And in 2016, she was such an enthusiastic supporter of Trump’s campaign, her donations to his Make America Great Again PAC far exceeded the Federal Elections Campaign Act limit. This led to an FEC investigation, but, without criminal consequences, what stops a multi-millionaire from breaking rules to force their political will onto the country?

That was in 2016, when one might be forgiven for supporting Trump out of naivety. But here we are in 2020, when, for all that might still seem bumblingly charming about Trump, we know what he really stands for: an utter disregard for human life, as evidenced by attack after attack on the environment, his white supremacist dog-whistling, his Muslim ban, and his anti-immigrant cruelties, which include locking toddlers in cages and making it nearly impossible to seek asylum through legal means; he recently ordered the National Guard to teargas protestors for a photo-op with the Bible, and his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic is unconscionable. And yet Bean remains a steadfast supporter, giving the primary election maximum of $2,800 to Trump in 2020 so far. According to Open Secrets, in 2020 she has also handed $4,250 to Susan Collins, nearly $17,000 to an assortment of right-wing PACs, and $142,000 to the Republican National Committee. Judging by her donations, she is also a fan of Maine Republican Eric Brakey. Known for his anti-immigrant and white-supremacist-leaning comments, Brakey and Maine Liberty PAC, a major backer, have received over $10,000 from Bean.

Linda Bean’s unbridled support for Trump prompted Grab Your Wallet, an organization started in response to Trump’s statement about how he can “grab” women “by the pussy,” to extend its boycott of Trump-supporting companies to L.L.Bean. Because Linda Bean remains on L.L.Bean’s board, the boycott is still very much alive.

But to refuse Linda Bean’s politics of bigotry, it is also appropriate to boycott anything she owns and profits from. Among her multi-million-dollar endeavors: Port Clyde General Store, Tenants Harbor General Store, her lobster rolls and her rental properties. And since this column originates in the beloved Lime City, the Farnsworth Art Museum’s ill-advised entanglement with Linda Bean must be addressed.

Not only does the Farnsworth have a gallery named after her (the Linda Bean Folkers Gallery), but it has gone out of its way to award her the 2020 “Maine in America Award” as a “Woman of Vision.” A few things to note about the Farnsworth’s 13 “Women of Vision” 2020 awardees: nine of the 13 women are dead. Maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t it a bit challenging to “Go Forward and Be Visionary,” as the Farnsworth says, when you’re dead? And, unless I’m mistaken, all but one of the 2020 Farnsworth awardees are white. On top of that, at least one of them, Linda Bean, has an unambiguous vision she has been devoted to for decades: exclusionary bigotry.

Why, in the art world of 2020, is there tolerance for awarding a “Women of Vision: Maine in America Award” to Linda Bean? Maybe some people at the Farnsworth share her vision. Or maybe they are willing to overlook it for her money. In the most recent Farnsworth donor list available—2018—Linda Bean was in the $500,000–$999,999 section. By continuing to associate so intimately with Linda Bean, the Farnsworth must not be expecting any significant repercussions. Are they complicit? Absolutely.

Why, in the art world of 2020, is there still so much emphasis on awarding the quietness of dead women, the whiteness of white women, and the money of moneyed women? And who instead might have been a 2020 Farnsworth “Women of Vision” awardee? Living, breathing, bleeding women, poor women who can’t afford art supplies, women with visions of Black lives mattering, Indigenous women mattering, workers’ lives mattering, non-binary, queer and trans women, people of color with visions of restorative justice for all, visions of ending patriarchy, visions of an earth not subject to an extractive economy.

The Farnsworth was willing to overlook (or perhaps it even supports) Linda Bean’s championing of cruel, exclusionary policies, in order to fund its institution. But the time for the politics of complicity is over. We who grew up here may feel a certain type of magical attachment to L.L.Bean, or even the Farnsworth, but L.L.Bean, the Farnsworth, and any number of entities around the world will not fundamentally change until they are pushed. Boycotts, creative protests, letters to the editor and board members, and denial of funds should all be employed. This is no time for keeping quiet.