Names on library murals are misspelled

Sunday, October 10, 2004

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Spelling counts -- especially at a library.

A $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.

"Our library director is very frustrated that she has this lovely new library and it has all these misspellings in front," said city councilwoman Lorraine Dietrich, one of three council members who voted Monday to authorize paying another $6,000, plus expenses, to fly artist Maria Alquilar up from Florida to fix the errors.

Reached at her Miami studio Wednesday by The Associated Press, Alquilar said she was willing to fix the work, which is 16 feet wide and made up of brightly colored ceramic pieces. But she offered no apologies for the 11 misspellings, including "Eistein," "Shakespere" and "Michaelangelo," among the 175 names.

"The importance of this work is that it is supposed to unite people," Alquilar said. "They are denigrating my work and the purpose of this work."

Alquilar said it took her quite a bit of her own time and money to create the work, and that it sat idle for two years until the city -- home of the Lawrence Livermore nuclear lab -- cleared the way for its installation. It was unveiled in June.

There were plenty of people around during the installation who could and should have seen the missing and misplaced letters, she said.

"Even though I was on my hands and knees laying the installation out, I didn't see it," she said.

Anyway, she said, the mistakes wouldn't even register with a true artisan.

"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."

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