Art House! Couple apologize for painting Van Gogh Starry Night House onto their home

A Florida couple in Mount Dora – Lubomir Jastrzebski and Nancy Nembhauser – have received an apology from the mayor for being fined thousands of dollars for painting Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” onto their home as a landmark for their autistic son.

In July last year, Nancy Nemhauser and Lubomir Jastrzebski were fined $10,000 for painting their home after one of Dutch painter, Van Gogh most famous works. The painting which spans the exterior of their home in Mount Dora, was said to be in breach of the city’s signage laws and could prove a distraction to motorists. The couple were later told to paint over the mural.

The local city council, which had said the mural violated city code, has now agreed to allow the artwork to stay and to pay the family $15,000 (£11,500).

According to the couple, the artwork was painted to help their autistic son find his way if he got lost.

Ms Nemhauser said she disputed the ruling and sued the city for violating the family’s right to free expression, adding that the painting was aimed at helping her son to return home.
“He would be able to at least mention the Van Gogh house and people would be able to help,” she told Reuters news agency.

In an unanimous agreement on Tuesday, the Mount Dora City Council agreed to waive the fine and, as part of a settlement, to pay the family an agreed fee.

Mayor Nick Girone of Mount Dora publicly apologised to the couple at the local city hall, adding that his city has a long history of supporting artists.

The painting which was commissioned to local artist Richard Barrenechea, said it was “a big day for the arts… and a big day for freedom”, the Associated Press reports.

The “Starry Night” house which is located about 25 miles (40 km) north-west of Orlando has since become a minor tourist attraction in the city.

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