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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

When the best of intentions go haywire

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cecila Giminez had the best of intentions.

She only meant to make some much-needed repairs to a water-damaged, century-old fresco in her church in northeastern Spain.

Instead, she's become an Internet sensation, both vilified and praised, for her amateur repairs to the artwork.

The fresco of Christ, painted in oils on a column in the church, was entitled "Ecce Homo (Behold the Man)." It was not particularly valuable, however the descendants of the artist had donated funds to have the painting restored by a professional.

Giminez didn't know that.

Armed with a paintbrush, oils, and good intentions, she set to work, bringing the work back to its former glory.

You know what they say about good intentions.

The completed "restoration" was described as resembling "a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic."

Church officials and parishioners discovered the unique repair, and the word got out. The story made the local news, then spread throughout the world.

The Internet is now full of parodies of the altered painting.

Folks have compared him to the moon-faced mascot Brutus of The Ohio State Buckeyes. They've re-imagined the Mona Lisa with the distinctive visage, as well as da Vinci's "The Last Supper" with faces of Jesus and the apostles all "Giminezed." A recent Internet meme sensation "Kayla Isn't Amused" has even been utilized by the parodying public.

Giminez said she attempted the restoration because she was upset by the condition of the painting, which she called a favorite. In her 80s, she is dismayed by the attention, insisting she worked on the painting in the church, in broad daylight with the knowledge of clergy. While they claim otherwise, the damage was done.

A funny thing has happened, aside from the Internet tongue-in-cheek parodies.

The painting, worth very little, and largely unnoticed by the world at large, has become famous. In turn, the church, in the small town of Borja, has been overrun by those seeking a glimpse.

News reports this weekend said the church has become a tourist attraction, and the painting has been roped off and guards stand by to protect the work.

Thousands have signed an online petition praising the restoration and defending Giminez's "endearing and loving act."

Art restoration experts have also descended on Borja, investigating the type of paint used to make the "repairs" and attempting to find out if the fresco can be saved in its former incarnation.

My heart goes out to the elderly parishioner who did the work. After all, I can look back on my life and see a string of projects that didn't end up quite the way I'd planned. Despite the best of intentions, "in over my head" would best describe the process.


Speaking of beautiful, when you're out at night, with a big harvest moon in the sky, make sure you give it a wink.

That was the request made by the family of the late Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

Armstrong was a true American hero, and he filled that role with a quiet grace. His passing on Saturday marked the end of a life known to the public for his Apollo 11 heroics. He chose to shun the spotlight after his moon walk, focusing instead on a life of academia back home in Ohio. He refused to sell out, to chase fame. His class and grace only amplify his place in American history.

We lost a great one.

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Paula Buenger