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October 7, 2004 11:58 AM

Broken: Misspelled Livermore library mural

EisteinCodeman38 points us to this breaking story from Livermore, California: the city's new library unveiled a new mural, created by Miami artist Maria Alquilar. Only one problem:

"[The] $40,000 ceramic mural was unveiled outside the city's new library and everyone could see the misspelled names of Einstein, Shakespeare, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo and seven other historical figures."
The picture shows "Eistein." No word on how Shakespeare (Sheikspeer?) and the others were spelled.

Ms. Alquilar, for her part, agreed to fix the changes but didn't apologize, complaining that "they are denigrating my work and the purpose of this work."


I think the bigger the letters are, and the more slowly you write them, the likelier you are to misspell, because the brain and the hand are going at completely different speeds (in 6th grade, I painted ALANTIC OCEAN on a big map, even though I knew how to spell it). But still, you should proofread the thing, or get someone else to, if you're as illiterate as this artist.

Posted by: Bob Sifniades at October 7, 2004 12:08 PM

Illiterate like a fox! She's getting an extra $6000 to fix her mistakes!

Posted by: Bruce at October 7, 2004 12:40 PM

I love her rationalization - "The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake's concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words," she said. "In their mind, the words register correctly." In other words, they are right because your brain sees them as right? Isn't that blurring the line between right and wrong? Oh, wait - that's acceptable nowadays, isn't it?

Posted by: Cary at October 7, 2004 02:34 PM

I like the fact that the article itself manages to include a spelling error all of its very own, in the same breath as it mentions the errors in the mural:

>> "...but offered no apologizes for the 11 misspellings..."

Posted by: Gil at October 7, 2004 09:37 PM

Gil: Heh, yeah, I caught that after I submitted the article here, and mentioned the error on my own blog. :)

Posted by: codeman38 at October 8, 2004 12:10 AM

Not actually breaking news; I read about this a month or two back on Riba Rambles. As I recall, Shakespeare is missing the final e, which is arguably legitimate -- spelling was far from standardized at the point, and there exist historical sources for that spealling. But there's no excuse for the others.

Posted by: menolly at October 8, 2004 03:18 AM

Jerk. I'm not usually one to suggest suing as an option, but they gave her an awful lot of money to make this thing, it was her duty to get it right. They should not have to shell out another $6000 dollars just to get her to fix it. She should make the repairs for free, and if necessary, they should take her to court.

Posted by: PlantPerson at October 8, 2004 09:24 AM

Apparently, I'm not into Blake's concept of enlightenment....

Posted by: heh at October 9, 2004 12:57 AM

Bob: Yes, you made a similar error and misspelled Atlantic, but you also mentioned that you were in sixth grade at the time. It's normal for a kid to make mistakes or not pay attention. This artist is a full grown adult who was getting paid a lot of money. She should have been paying a lot of attention to her work. Last thing I heard, she's now refused to fix the mistakes because she received so many angry emails about her screw up. She now doesn't want to fix it "on principle", and mumbled something about her art, her vision, or whatever. She's the one that's broken.

Posted by: Toni at October 10, 2004 05:11 AM

PlantPerson, you ever hear the one about glass houses and stones? While you're calling the artist a "Jerk" for her errors, you made one yourself: "$6000 dollars."

Posted by: D.F. Manno at October 10, 2004 05:44 PM

Ahh, that's right, D.F. Manno. And I suppose PlantPerson would happily fix that error for $6000. :)

Posted by: Bianca Timlin at October 12, 2004 04:14 PM

The bigger mistake here would be by the people who selected the artist for the mural. You should never by any thing from Florida eccept maybe orange jucie.

Posted by: Jim at October 13, 2004 02:40 PM

You can find a complete list of the misspellings at as well as photos of the mural itself, and close-ups of several of the more well known names.

Posted by: bill at November 9, 2004 01:21 PM

I don't think this qualifies as broken, because the misspellings are clearly intentional.

You could argue that this is bad art, but it's not a mistake.

Posted by: Jason at November 18, 2004 10:27 AM

Must everyone argue about the "brokenness" of EVERYTHING on this entire site?!

Also, I find it rather ironic how most every post here has several obvious misspellings.

It is truly obscene that that artist is getting paid $6000 dollars to fix a mistake she had two YEARS to correct...

"Alquilar said it took her quite a bit of her own time and money to create and install the work, and that it sat idle at her Santa Cruz studio for !! two years !! until the city cleared the way for its installation."

Apparently, the $40,000 the city shelled out plus the $6000 mistake bonus can't cover "her to create...the work"

Posted by: noname at December 28, 2004 08:58 PM

Tucson, AZ had a similar problem with some public art that looked like sewage coming out of a sewer pipe...the "art" consisted of a concrete pipe sticking out of the ground. attached to this were some brown tiles in the form of a spewing looked like S***. I can't find a color picture, but there's a black and white picture here (that stuff coming out is brown):

It has since been taken down but the point is that artist need to relize that PUBLIC art is going to be viewed by the non-artist public who don't enjoy mistakes/ugly art.

comments on the art here:

Posted by: a bum at December 28, 2004 09:30 PM

$40,000?.... My 6th grader could make art like that, and probably get the names right too!

Posted by: viewer at April 1, 2005 08:08 AM

"artist" schmartist - for that kind of money she is a blatant rip-off. Who's butt is she kissing to be paid more to deliver what was deserved?

to the beach

Posted by: imnotright at May 3, 2005 07:49 PM


umm... Who's going to pay me $750 to correct sumething? Plz. U are all insulting the purpuss of my art. Damnm You all!

Posted by: Debra at June 26, 2005 02:58 AM

Letter To The Editor:

Members of the Press, Associated Press, PBS and TV News and the Viewing Public

My ceramic mural,The Doors, can serve as an  introduction to the humanities, opening the doors to enlightenment for adults and children of all ages. The mural contains 300 references to artists, scientists, dancers, heroes, explorers, writers, poets, adventurers, inventors, saviors, musicians, areas of the world, mythology, religions, folklore and world crafts.

This work is divided into four conjoining circles. The first circle is a scene depicting divine love and enlightenment. Circle two illustrates the search for enlightenment. For example, the words "trails, suffering, courage"  are illustrated with appropriate figures such as Gandhi  and Jonah.

The words around the circle's perimeter are from Dante's Divine Comedy: "We were not made to live like beasts but to follow knowledge and truth." Also included are William Blake's immortal words describing enlightenment: "When the doors of perception are cleansed, all things will appear as they are, infinite."

The largest circle divides the world into general geographic areas such as Africa, Asia and Europe. Within these areas are illustrations of the culture as well as the influence of that culture on artists, explorers and scientists. For example, in Africa, there is Egypt with Anwar Sadat as a sphinx. These illustrations could serve to open discussions on the complete world of Israel and Islam for a teacher and class.

Through study of the various images and their placement on the circle combined with some followup research in this wonderful community library, a viewer may discover surprises such as the major influence of African art and culture on artists such as Picasso and his contemporaries who lived and worked in Paris.

The last circle represents the community of Livermore. The words and the quotes, together with the aesthetics of the work, are designed to engage the viewer from the most basic interest level to higher intellectual and spiritual levels.

My greatest goal would be for people to explore these different cultures and come to realize that the elements that we have in common are far greater than the elements that separate cultures and lead to violence. This applies particularly to the mysteries of individual religions. If one could search back into his or her collective unconscious, he or she would find what Joseph Campbell calls Bliss.

Please enjoy this work in the sprit in which it was conceived. Thank you.

Maria Alquilar

15 August 2005

Posted by: Maria Alquilar at August 16, 2005 09:41 AM

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