NC community outraged after company paints over mural, turns it into beige wall

There is shock and outrage in Durham after a company painted over a mural that took more than half-a-year to create. The image above shows a before-and-after of the wall. (WTVD-TV)

There is shock and outrage in Durham after a company painted over a mural that took more than half-a-year to create. The image above shows a before-and-after of the wall. (WTVD-TV)

DURHAM, N.C. — There is shock and outrage in Durham after a company painted over a mural that took more than half-a-year to create, according to WTVD-TV.

The artist, like many others in the community, is livid the one colorful scene is now one neutral shade.

“I can’t look at that beige wall. I mixed over a thousand colors,” said artist Emily Weinstein.

It was 1996 when Weinstein began painting the massive mural on the side of the Penny Furniture Building on Morris Street. Dozens of volunteers helped out. Now, the landscape of the nearby Eno River is erased. The building’s new owner painted over it.

Weinstein says she lovingly painted more than 800 animals, numerous flowers and trees.

“It was a gift to the City of Durham,” said Weinstein. “I was really hoping whoever moved in would be a real steward of the town.”

A company called the Caktus Group bought the historic 1910 building in March and is renovating it inside and out. The CEO admits redoing the exterior is a mistake.

Tobias McNulty posted a lengthy statement on the company website and said,” I am personally distressed at this response. I see now, in retrospect, where we needed to work harder to discuss our decision with the community. Its removal was not a decision taken lightly and one done in consultation with the Historic Preservation Commission. However, we handled it poorly. We apologize for not making more efforts to include the community in this decision.”

Weinstein would like the chance to go back and paint another mural.

“It’s huge. The loss is huge to the town and I’m hoping that they decide, ‘Hey, we need another Eno River mural’ and I’d gather a lot of artists and resurrect,” said Weinstein.

The mural was paid for in part by the Durham Arts Council, which is located right next door to the building.

The company told ABC11 that they are open to creating another mural or piece of artwork. The company plans on holding a meeting and is inviting the public to come and share their ideas.