Don Larrabee, the Washington representative of the governor of Maine, sent a note that I followed up yesterday and confirmed:

" . . . I walk across the new Western Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue between 13th and 14th streets NW every morning. During the past week, I have observed with some sorrow that 'the biggest painting in the world' produced by the public recently at a Pennsylvania Avenue Festival has left the biggest mess in the world on that once-beautiful expanse of granite . . .

"The plaza has been defaced with swatches of paint of all colors . . . Much of the plaza is suddenly dirty and grimy. I have seen no evidence of any effort to clean it up."

My visit yesterday confirmed his contention. The plaza looked awful.

But Tom Regan, executive director of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., said nobody should worry: A two-stage cleaning is in prospect that involves a steam-cleaning device. "It will probably start this weekend," he said, "and take a week's work." He said all the stains should be removable because water-based paint was used.

If the cleanup takes that long, was it worth having a painting spree of that kind? Or am I just being stuffy in asking the question?