VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A mural dedicated to military veterans will not replaced, even though hotel management previously said they had full intentions to have it repainted.
The mural was covered up in November. Management of the Howard Johnson at the Oceanfront told affiliate WTKR they painted over the mural because it was peeling and water began seeping into the building.
The hotel’s owner, Aaron Patel, says they couldn’t afford the $35,000 artist Sam Welty needed to repaint the wall.
Patel also said he wouldn’t let Welty do it for free because it would be the hotel’s responsibility to maintain the artwork and they were getting harassed by people who were not involved.
“For them to go back on their word it was pretty disheartening,” said Welty. “I don’t understand why they made that decision. I would have assumed it was because of the money, but I took that off the table. I can find the money somewhere else, there’s a lot of people who want to help, but he changed his mind.”
When the mural was originally painted over, WTKR set up a meeting between Welty and Matthew West, who runs a management company working with the hotel. On Dec. 1, West agreed to bring Welty on board to repaint the mural once all leak issues were taken care of at the hotel.
Welty said after that meeting and presenting hotel management with a plan, he got sparse communication.
Welty first painted the mural in 2002 to honor the military following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The muralist said he’s not done with the situation by a longshot and he will paint the wall again or find another place to honor the military.
He’s still trying to figure out why the hotel backed out after they said they were committed to restoring the artwork.