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Saturday, October 09, 2004
  Spelling mishap at Livermore Library
Sixteen foot wide ceramic mural outside of a library in Livermore, California has spelling errors in it. Historical figures like Vincent van Gogh, Albert Einstein, Shakespeare, Michelangelo and seven others all had their names mispelled in the $40,ooo mural.
Miami based artist Maria Alquilar has agreed to be flown back to fix the errors for $6,000 plus expenses. She says "The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake's concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words, In their mind the words register correctly."
usatoday & news10
BgArt News Blog Comments:
wow thats is really funny how can not u not check the spelling before u do sumthing lyk that. at least they are fixing it
The inability of this "artist" to spell a few names correctly is symptomatic of a much more serious malady plaguing the art world. To what extent do we continue to appreciate and promote works which are fundamentally unpleasant and talentless?

We do not afford the same level of forgiving interpretations to music or food as we do to art. Why is that? If a dish is disgusting, one would have a hard time advocating its esoteric beauty. The same applies to music. Imagine someone picking up a computer monitor and throwing it down on the ground, describing the sound coming forth as a masterpiece composition. How is it that art has reached that level of absurdity that something so ridiculously untalented as the mural gets passed off as art?

I am not advocating, as some do, that ultra-realism or photo-realism is the only type of art. Skill is not the only factor involved. Indeed, I cannot, nor will I try, to ascertain what IS and what IS NOT art. But I can say for certain this much: as with a masterpiece meal, I can tell you what it is when I see it (or taste it in the case of food). With music the same.

The question is really one of honesty and integrity. It is very easy and tempting to be dishonest when interpreting and commenting upon art. As the stakes can be very high, we understand why this happens. With the right promotion and backing, an utter piece of garbage can go for thousands of dollars. Take the mural with the misspellings for example. The fact that the artist was so careless and did not spell-check did not bother me as much as the fact that the art itself is horrible.
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Unbeleivbale the ratinoale uesd to jusifty erros.
I find it very amusing that the artist's attitude sounds exactly like that of a sixteen year old. If it doesn't matter to me then it can't possibly be important. I wonder if the artist really believes that arrested development is a sign of artistic genius.
As an artist myself, I find the spelling errors on that mural and the artist's dismissal of them as irrelevant shameful. It plays into a stereotype of artists as creative types who have no functional skills.

That said, it is another thing entirely to connect this to issues of aesthetics, artistic intention, meaning, and taste. People were appalled by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring when it was first performed publicly. It is now part of Disney's Fantasia. Monet, Van Gogh, Pollack - thumbs down initially, then people sat with the work and and found something to appreciate it.

I went to the website for the mural artist. I think actually some of her work is pretty great for the context of public art. And as for the sound of a computer monitor being smashed to the ground - in my book, it beats the incessant twang of a harpsicord working its way through a Bach composition.
i wanna know how they spelled the names.
"A slavish concern for the composition of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect!" The Humbug. A quote from one of my favorite books--The Phantom Tollbooth. The Humbug shouts this out in a verbal battle with, of course, The Spelling Bee. I too was disturbed by the artist's rationalization. Indeed, the viewer may register the names correctly, but that is still not an excuse for spelling them incorrectly. Perhaps if Ms. Alquilar's name was spelled incorrectly on her checks she might feel differently....
Given that this mosaic was laid out, piece by piece, in a public area, and not revealed from behind a sheet with a grand TaDa, might we also question the courage of those who observed the partially-completed work? Those who did not tap the artist on the shoulder and whisper, "Michelangelo has no 'a' in the second syllable," in order to save the city $6,000 and the artist humiliation? Or were these art appreciators acting in deference to the psyche of the artist-at-work, who might crumble (or alternately, hiss like a snake) should the work be criticised?
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I think I would have withheld final payment before examining the finished mural and I think I would definitely argue against paying more to fix the problem.

I think maybe the selection process that hired the artist in the first place might have been lacking, too.
Something went wrong on more than one level here.... who was responsible for ordering the mural, and why did they not look over the plans carefully before allowing 40 grand of the taxpayer's money to be blown on it. I doubt if a private individual was buying the work this mistake would have happened.
The "artist" was very defensive about her production, but if you look a the work, it's crap! This looks like a high school art class project. (OK - let's be fair - maybe junior high.) The letters were sloppy - in a lazy, I-don't-give-a crap-way not in an artistic, this-is-free-form way. (see
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