Via Adele Weder comes the story of the Florida couple that painted the exterior of their house sky blue, with murals on it paying homage to Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. You can view a short video of the house’s exterior here. The homeowners had hired a mural artist to paint over their house’s exterior to create a pastiche of colour their autistic son found calming. But the municipality of Mount Dora said it was graffiti and the local court agreed that one solid colour with “no graphics, no design, nothing that is going to end up attracting attention of the public” was all that was allowed.
While it might look like a simple homeowner/municipality complaint, the homeowner is unhappy being charged $100 a day until the mural is removed. The homeowner thinks a simple change in municipal bylaws is needed. She states “The point of the dispute in Mount Dora over a mural painted on a house isn’t whether it’s pretty or the most hideous reproduction ever of a master work. This is a property rights issue easily fixed by the city changing its intrusive codes. Unfortunately, the dispute over the reproduction of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on a house and wall is a sign of a troubling trend — that of municipalities starting to act like homeowner associations.”
A court judgement has now capped the fines owed to $10,000. The City of Mount Dora has released a statement saying “that while the city embraces art, the “Starry Night” mural is a “distraction” and potential hazard for drivers. It also said the painting didn’t follow the city’s zoning rules. It is not the city’s intention to prevent anyone from enjoying art. But it is the city’s intention to protect the safety of everyone who lives in Mount Dora or comes to visit and to preserve the residential character of our neighborhoods.”