Battle over "Starry Night" mural continues

- The battle over a controversial mural in Mount Dora isn’t over yet.

After the city told a homeowner to get rid of the paintings within 30 days, the artwork is still up and the deadline is Monday.
“She’s gonna keep fighting,” Richard Barrenechea said about the homeowner.

He painted the mural and says she isn’t planning on covering up his hard work.
“It’s free art for the community,” he said. “They should give some recognition instead of punishing.”

Code enforcement first called it graffiti, then city officials deemed it a sign.  

“They say that it’s too bold and is a distraction from the traffic,” Barrenechea said.

On October 6, a magistrate signed an order saying the painting needs to be painted over in a solid color within 30 days.

According to a state statute referred to in the order, a first violation could cost up to $250 a day.

For repeat violations, that number goes up to $500.

“The attorney is still fighting the case and he’s still trying to work it out with the city, so we’ll see tomorrow what’s happening,” Barrenechea said.

The home is right off Old U.S. Highway 441 so a lot of people have gotten a glimpse at the artwork and thoughts on it appear to be mixed.

“It’s not very pretty. It’s not a really nice piece of art,” said Sandra Arnold, who lives in the area.

“I love it,” said Susan Goins, who lives in Mt. Dora. “I think it lends a little flavor to the town.”

The homeowner’s attorney has appealed the magistrate’s ruling in circuit court.

City officials declined to comment.

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