No controversy over 'Starry Night' mural in Leesburg

Mural in Mount Dora costing homeowners more than $10,000 in fines

By Jennifer Ortega - Reporter

LEESBURG, Fla. - A mural of "The Starry Night" in Mount Dora -- which is costing the homeowner more than $10,000 in fines from the city -- is now welcomed with open arms in Leesburg.

The same artist is giving "The Starry Night" another go just 16 miles away.

Patt Gilmore said the mural of "The Starry Night" is the perfect addition to the city to get people talking about the arts in Leesburg.

"We just adore his stuff," said Gilmore, with the Leesburg Center of Arts. "This is great because the Center of the Arts is one block away from Main Street and we really want to point people down to this area. This is a hub of creativity."

[PICS: Mount Dora mural]

She told News 6 the project has been something they've wanted for a while and it's been approved by the city council.

"On board, totally approved. We weren't going to jump in without any of those approvals," she said.

"What happened is these people know about art. It's a big difference," artist Richard Barrenchea said.

Barrenchea is talking about his seven-month battle with the city of Mount Dora over a far bigger mural of "The Starry Night." Mount Dora deemed it a traffic safety concern and code violation, issuing more than than $10,000 in fines to the homeowner since the controversy began.

News 6 asked Gilmore why they choose to go with the same painting after Mount Dora.

"It's not Mount Dora's 'Starry Night.' It's our 'Starry Night.' Everybody knows about Mount Dora and the wall, but we really support Richard 100 percent. We wanted him here," she said.

The Leesburg mural should be ready before the big Leesburg Art Festival. As for the mural in Mount Dora, the homeowner's attorney has since filed a federal complaint. They said painting over it would violate their First Amendment rights.

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