LEESBURG, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - An artist whose impressionist-inspired work has kicked up controversy in one Central Florida city is being welcomed by another. Central Florida artist Richard Barrenechea is now on the job in Leesburg.
“It's a very, very artistic community, no doubt,” Barrenechea said.
Barrenechea is probably best known locally for the so-called 'Starry Night House' in Mount Dora. His huge mural of Vincent Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' painting that covers the home is at the center of a legal fight between the homeowners and the city, which says the design is a code violation.'
That didn't sit right with Leesburg Mayor Dan Robuck. “This is ridiculous!” Robuck said, “They're targeting this artist. I think it's a cool piece of art.”
So Leesburg commissioned Barrenechea to do a mural wrapping around the city's downtown arts center.
“We do have a history here in Leesburg of supporting the arts,” Robuck said, “we've got a lot of other murals around town, and we thought this would be a good way to highlight that we're open to arts, we respect property rights.”
The mural also has a 'Starry Night' motif.
“They're trying to do the right thing and take the moment,” Barrenechea said, “it's cool, so I've been having some commissioned works in Eustis and Leesburg and all the communities around they appreciate the art and understand what's going on.”
The Leesburg Art Center director says the mural should be complete by the beginning of the summertime. They say work is being entirely funded by private donations.