Ralph Fasanella (1914-1997) "the painter of the labor movement" grew up in New York's Little Italy. He was fascinated by the struggle the working class endured both before his time and during his life.
For three years in the 1970s, Fasanella lived in Lawrence while he transformed huge canvases into colorful scenes of the city’s industrial past. Fasanella’s paintings tell the story of Lawrence’s workers in the early 20th century, in particular during the 1912 Bread and Roses strike. The event, which was instigated by the city’s textile factory laborers after unjust wage reductions, is described by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO as “one of the most prolific strikes in United States history.”
Jack: I was directing a different picture that involved a scene in Lawrence, Mass., where I saw an exhibit of Ralph Fasanella’s “Bread and Roses” and other labor-related paintings. Learned that he lived just down river in Ardsley, NY. I spent several days with him and also filmed the labor history of Lawrence and Ralph’s paintings of New York City, Chicago and Washington, DC. Hired his daughter to work on “The Molders of Troy.” She ended up with a dog, Finn, I got for $5 from a local pound to be in the picture. Dog growled at me, who had saved him from asphyxiation, but loved her. At dinner at the Fasanellas’ one evening, Finn stole my napkin and peed on my shoe.”