Publisher's update: SInce this article's publication, homeowner has appealed notice of violation. A magistrate hearing that is open to the public is September 14 at 9 a.m. at City Hall.
Above: The orginal 1889 Van Gogh painting "Starry Night" hanging in MoMA in New York.
When Richard Barrenechea was commissioned to create a painting on a wall, he had no idea a storm would brew in this quaint Florida city that has built a reputation of supporting the arts.
Before beginning the interpretation of Van Gogh’s iconic “Starry Night,” the homeowner, who wished not to have her name published, sought permission from the City of Mount Dora Planning Department and was told no permission was needed to create a painting on her wall.
Above: Painting in progress commissioned by Mount Dora homeowner.
After a forty-foot section was nearly complete and receive praise on social media, the homeowner was cited by Mount Dora Police Department’s code enforcement officer for a graffiti violation. When the officer reportedly was unaware of the famous painting in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the homeowner advised her of its significance, but the citation was still issued.
"I feel disappointed the city doesn't appreciate a painting of the iconic work of van Gogh as art. I hope this gets resolved positively," said Barrenechea.
The city code (Section 22.960 b) pertains to “Maintenance Requirements” and reads “"The property shall be maintained free of graffiti or similar markings by removal or painting over with an exterior grade paint that matches the color of the exterior structure." The notice requires the wall to be repainted by July 31 (citation is pictured below)
One of three other nearby paintings on downtown Mount Dora walls.
The homeowner said she will appeal the violation, claiming that the City of Mount Dora first allowed the painting and later erroneously defined it as graffiti. She noted nearby downtown properties with high-visibility exterior paintings have not been issued the same citation. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. Find out what's happening locally with just a tap on your phone by downloading the area's free mobile app. Monthly issues of Mount Dora Buzz are available here.
Code enforcement citation issued to homeowner on July 26.