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Tuesday, 01 December, 2020

A Michelangelo She Ain't

Date: 21 October, 2004

By: Chief

Image am bloody well positive that you all are going to really love this one. It is so far past ludicrous that it is somewhere near the realm of unbelievable.

A few years back, 2000 to be exact, the city of Livermore, California commissioned an artist, one Maria Alquilar, to create a mosaic for their new public library. The city paid Alquilar $40,000 U.S. greenbacks to build this work. The mosaic was to show a tree of life in its center surrounded by icons representing science, art, literature and history. Alquilar agreed to the contract and the cash and built the mosaic. So far, so good. However, during the library's grand opening earlier this year city officials noticed that there seemed to be something not quite right with Alquilar's mosaic. And they were rite ... er ... write ... er ... right. Surrounding the mosaic were the names of a 175 famous scientists, artists and writers. Well, lo and behold 11 of those names of famous people were, you guessed it, misspelled. People such as Einstein, Shakespeare, van Gogh, Michelangelo and Schumann. Can you believe that? I told you it was unbelievable. Yet it is true. Amazing.

The real good or sad part of this saga is that the artist, Maria Alquilar is put out, as in miffed, as in pissed off that her mistakes were caught and she was contacted by the city to fix the errors. Indeed, the city of Livermore was willing to pay her $6,000 additional dollars plus expenses, Alquilar lives in Miami you see, to come back to Livermore and fix her own screw ups. For money like that, plus expenses, I should become an artist. But I digress. Anyhow her initial answer to the cities request was — no. Why? Because, according to the San Francisco Chronicle:

"She no longer wants to fix it because of the 'nasty messages from people who don't understand art'. "

Alquilar further complains that:

" 'If I come out, there will probably be a demonstration,' she said. 'There is so much anger. I am so upset, I can't even think straight'. "

Anger? Gee why should there be anger? Just because the city spent $40,000 dollars of taxpayer money on an artist who obviously pays no attention to detail. Nah, that is no reason to be angry. Just because the city and its citizens end up with the proverbial egg foo young on face is absolutely no reason to get angry. Or because the city offered to pay the artist an additional $6,000 bucks — plus expenses to fix her fisaco, again, that is no reason to get angry.

The hell it isn't. If I was a resident of Livermore I would be raising holy hell. Not only would I be demanding Alquilar fix that eyesore she got paid for, she would be fixing it at no cost to the city. I would not pay her one red cent. Not one.

She claims to be upset? She collected 40 grand of taxpayer money. She screwed up the job she was contracted to do. The city has offered her an additional 6 grand — plus expenses to correct her original screw ups. And she's upset!?! It is nuts. That is what it is.

Furthermore she claims she can't even think straight. Well, she thought clear enough to sign the contract, do the work, misspell 11 names in the process and cash the check. In the alternative, misspelling 11 names of some of the worlds greatest minds ... well maybe she could not think straight when she created this mess to begin with.

The one and only saving grace about this is that Alquilar has:

"[C]losed her gallery and says she plans to cancel an upcoming show because of the furor."

Additionally, she stated that:

" 'My career in public art is over'. "

What do I have to say about that? Hooray and thank God (there might even be one)!

Talk about audacity Alquilar knew:

"[T]he names were spelled correctly on her sketches, but she got them wrong as she was doing the piece. She admits noticing 'Einstein' was misspelled but choosing to go forward anyway." Indeed Alquilar quips " 'I just wasn't that concerned,' she said. 'None of us are particularly good spellers anymore because of computers. When you are in a studio full of clay, you don't give it much thought.' "

She then adds:

" 'When you look at Michelangelo's David, do you point out that one (testicle) is lower than the other'? "

Puh-lease lady. We are not talking physiology or anatomy so quit trying to change the subject. What we are talking about is the ability to spell and completing a job properly. Try to get it right.

In my opinion, when one looks at Michelangelo's David and then looks at what Alquilar created there can be no comparison whatsoever. Michelangelo's David is truly a masterpiece. An actual work of art. Alquilar's misspelled mosaic on the other hand is, well, kindergarten scribble comes quickly to mind.

The City of Livermore even went as far as to consider:

"[L]eaving the misspelled names and creating a game where visitors try to find them — an idea that angered Alquilar."

To which Alquilar responded:

" 'Can you imagine them suggesting that a work of art be used as a game?' she asked. 'It is outrageous.' "

Outrageous? No. Hilarious? Absolutely.

You may be wondering why Livermore just doesn't fix the damn thing on their own and be done with it. Well, there is a minor technical difficulty called California state law. Apparently no public artwork can be modified or removed without the artists consent. That law may have some good points to it but the bad point is the residents of the city are voiceless and powerless. The artist holds sway. Dumb.

Unfortunately, Alquilar has finally decided to fix her self inflicted misspelled mosaic. To the tune of $6,000 smackeroos plus travel expenses. The lesson here for the city of Livermore is next time they want to hire an artist hire the local high school art department. They will get a better job at a better price.

Speaking price tags and Michelangelo and Alquilar, do you have any idea of just how much Michelangelo charged the Vatican for his part as chief architect of the alter section, which includes the dome, of Saint Peter's Basilica? Zero. In fact, according to historical record Michelangelo refused payment of any sort for his crowning achievement. I also think it would be safe to say that Michelangelo, unlike Alquilar, got it right — the first time.

What a difference there is between a master and kindergarten scribble.

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