Artist and hotel management group meet to talk about mural painted over

Posted at 9:28 PM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 23:17:41-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A fresh coat of paint over a mural honoring military forces at the Oceanfront is stirring up a lot of emotions. The new hotel owners started the project over the weekend and said it was because the mural was cracking and because of that water was getting into the building.

The hotel said they tried to contact the artist who painted it to make repairs and had to put up a fresh coat of paint.  The artist said he's concerned about the message the hotel was sending to the military community. That coat of paint upset a lot of people, so News 3 took action and set up a meeting between the artist Sam Welty and the director of operations Matthew West to let them talk it out.

"It was nothing to offend anybody, especially not to be against our work or anything because it was great work. We want to get things fixed and move forward with getting that mural back on," said West. Welty responded, "Okay, sounds great to me."

Welty poured in three weeks of passion and pride to finish the mural. West said water seeping into the building could have been a potential code violation and a health problem for people staying in the building.

"During the off season, we want to finish our repairs, make sure everything is good so by next season we can dedicate everything the way we'd like to and show our appreciation to our military,"

When the two met Monday night, West made it clear he wants Welty back to paint a new mural and the hotel will pay to make that happen. Welty said it's a win-win and he's glad News 3 took action.

"I was expecting to hear nothing for a week. The fact that you guys [News 3] were able to put this together so quickly and you [West] were able to come out so soon. It really is above and beyond and it really is worthy of the tribute we're trying to give to the community," said Welty.

There is not an exact date set for when repairs will be finished or when Welty will come back to start painting, but he said he's hoping to have a paintbrush in hand by spring. The two set a date to meet next Thursday to talk and figure out more details on the project. They are planning to have a big dedication when the mural is finished.