MOUNT DORA, Fla. - An artist fighting to keep his mural alive at a Mount Dora home is running out of time. The city gave him and the homeowner a deadline to remove the art, but they're taking it to court.
The city gave the homeowner a month to paint over the mural on Old Highway 441. She now only has about a week left. Even though her time is running out to remove the mural, it continues to grow.
Richard Barrenechea said art is in the eye of the beholder and that van Gogh would be proud of his interpretation of "The Starry Night."
Barrenechea was hired in July to paint a wall surrounding the home of Nancy Nemhauser. In August, as he was halfway through his vision of the famous painting, the homeowner got a notice of a code violation.
The city said the mural was graffiti and that it was in violation, but that claim didn't hold. Barrenechea said the city changed course and said it was considered signage and that it still needs to be painted over.
"They want it in a simple color -- a solid color," Barrenechea said. "They say that it's signage, and we said, 'Signage to what?' My name is not on the mural. My signature is not there -- my name or my number, so it's not signage."
News 6 reached out to the city about where it currently stands after the homeowner filed an appeal of their decision that she must remove the mural. Officials said the issue has already moved on to Circuit Court and that Nemhauser still has one week to remove the mural. Otherwise, she will face a $250 fine for every day it isn't removed.
Barrenechea said he hopes their online petition supporting the mural -- with nearly 5,000 signatures -- can save what some are calling a new Mount Dora staple.
"We're still waiting the 30 days, because we're keeping our hope that it could be reversible," Barrenechea said. "Hopefully the city wants to keep it."
The piece now overflows from the fence all the way up the house itself.
"You gotta see how many people come a day to take pictures and selfies," Barrenechea said. "They say they love it. I mean, it's been (seen by) hundreds of people already."
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