Sparry Night: Van Gogh mural causes controversy in Historic Mount Dora

Sparry Night: Van Gogh mural causes controversy in Historic Mount Dora

Now that we’ve decided to make Mount Dora, Florida, our home base for the moment and focus on taking smaller trips around the country, we’ve started to spend enough time here to notice changes.

One day, as we were driving into the historic downtown from our RV park, we observed a painter embellishing a stretch of white wall with bright blue swirls. As we drove back and forth over the next couple of weeks, we realized he’d painted a version of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.

I was delighted! I love art, all kinds, the larger and more colorful, the better. And considering that this wall, which stretches from the edge of downtown to

I wanted to know more. Was this part of a community project, sponsored by the City of Mount Dora? Should I be on the lookout for more murals popping up on the wall on Old Highway 441, next to Lake Dora?

I was shocked to learn that the 140-foot mural’s blue and yellow paint strokes have caused some people to see red. A code-enforcement officer has classified the mural as “graffiti,” even though the artist was commissioned and paid by the homeowners who’re responsible for that portion of the wall.

The problem is that the wall is in a residential zone, which must “… be maintained free of graffiti or similar markings,” according to city code. Yet artist Richard Barrenchea maintains, “It’s not graffiti, it’s artwork.” He’s even incorporated iconic scenes from Mount Dora, including the city’s lighthouse.

The case will go before the Magistrate in a hearing scheduled for September 14 at City Hall.

Personally, I’m a big fan, and I hope the mural stays. But just in case, I made sure I took a bunch of pictures of it this weekend.


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