LIVERMORE -- For the first time in a long while, sculptor Don Homan stopped by the Livermore Peace Monument, a 10-foot-tall sculpture he built nearly three decades ago, noting the scratches and gouges intentionally dug into the metal.
Homan's two-piece creation, reproduced in bronze, still sits at the entrance to the old Livermore main library, though the building itself remains abandoned. With the city's state-of-the-art library located just down the street, the site is mostly forgotten except, apparently, by the occasional malicious visitor using a key or knife to deface the sculpture.
"There's nobody to play on it anymore," Homan explained. "It's in that place where vandals can get to it easily. It really needs to get moved to a place that's better suited for it."
According to Livermore Public Works director Dan McIntyre, city officials are aware of recent vandalism to the piece and are working with local contractors to find cost-effective solutions to the problem.
"We're looking at what treatment might be necessary to remove the scratches," McIntyre said. "We thought maybe we could buff it out, but that didn't seem to work."
McIntyre added that so far the city isn't considering moving the sculpture, which, he said, "might be an expensive proposition."
"It's unfortunate that people are being so irresponsible and damaging this significant piece of artwork," said McIntyre.
The sculpture dates back to 1984. Inspired by the writing of Leon Smith, a former engineer at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, the Livermore city council wanted a monument to peace, instead of war, and formed a committee to find a sculptor.
After the search proved too expensive, Homan, a member of the committee, decided to build it himself, out of teakwood.
Vandalism is certainly not a new problem for the monument. Over the years, Homan said, local youth would scribble or carve their names on it. For more than two decades, Homan did all the maintemance work on his own, resanding and refinishing the sculpture at least once a year.
"I had it redone so many times the teakwood got so it wasn't going to last," Homan said.
Faced with losing the monument to the march of time, Homan gave the city three options; he could refinish it once more for placement indoors, send it to a landfill, or the city could redo it in bronze. The city chose the latter option, casting the shape in steel using the original wood as a template, and encasing it in sheets of bronze.
Moving the monument, Homan admits, would be no small feat; it had to be lowered in place by a crane and is anchored at the site in concrete.
While he's understandably unhappy about the graffiti, Homan, now approaching 80, says the issue is no longer a woodworking problem, and he's at a loss for solutions.
"I can't be the one to be asking the city to move it," Homan said. "It's their piece."
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184 or follow him at twitter.com/jet_bang.