Controversial Van Gogh house mural leads to more work for Lake County artist

He is a painter, in the throes of controversy.  While some in the community are calling his work graffiti, others call it art.

When we caught up with Richard Barrenechea, he was putting the finishing touches on his latest mural masterpiece, on the side of a restaurant in Eustis, Sol de Mexico.

"The owner, he like the colors a lot, so we make it very colorful," he explains.

But to understand how he got here, we have to go back a few months, when Barrenechea is at the center of a heated debate about a mural on a house in Mount Dora.  A homeowner hired him to paint the imagery of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night, first on her wall and then on her house.  The city said it violated code and needed to come down.

"I said, Tat's crazy! Gotta be a mistake!'"

Sometimes though, a little controversy can be a good thing.  After what happened in Mount Dora with that mural, Barrenechea's art is in more demand than ever across Lake County.

"We couldn't understand why an arts community would censor art," said Frank Bartle, owner of the building which houses Sol de Mexico.

Then, the owners of Wolf Branch Brewing paid him to paint a mural, which will frame part of a planned beer garden.

"The expression that this young man ha... is just amazing!" Bartle added.

"I cannot complain.  I mean, I have work for two to three more months," Barrenechea said.