Artist claims hotel won’t allow him to repaint military tribute mural

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A local artist has reportedly been told by a Virginia Beach hotel that he will not be allowed to repaint a mural.

Artist Sam Welty, who originally painted the mural, told 10 On Your Side Thursday that he was told by the hotel he could not repaint the mural. Welty says the hotel’s owner, Aaron Patel, cited budgetary concerns as a reason.

Back in November, artist Sam Welty’s mural dedicated to the military was painted over. That was ordered by the owners of the Howard Johnson Hotel, at 512 Atlantic Avenue. Hotel owner Aaron Patel had told Welty the back wall was damaged and they mural was removed to fix the back wall.

Photos: Popular beach military mural disappears

People in the community complained, and Patel agreed to meet with Welty to hammer out a deal to paint a new one in December.

“Mr. Patel did seem receptive to the idea,” Welty said at the time of the meeting. “We discussed the dollar amount [of $35,000]. He said he has to speak to his partners and he will get back to me.”

Artist, hotel owner meet to discuss military mural restoration

Mr. Patel apparently got back to Welty almost two months later. On Thursday morning, Welty says he got a call from Patel with bad news — He said the requested $35,000 wasn’t in the budget, and there would be no mural.

“So I asked him, ‘What if budget wasn’t an issue?’ I told him I didn’t need his money. I can find the money, just give me permission to do it. Just give me permission and access to the wall, and he said, ‘No, there is nothing we can do at this time,'” Welty said.

10 On Your Side repeatedly requested a comment from Patel, which were not returned. The hotel’s Director of Company Operations Matthew West sent the following text message to WAVY’s Andy Fox: “It is highly unfortunate Mr. Welty is expecting a $35,000 pay day from us.”

Andy told West that Welty had offered to do the mural for free. West did not seem to know about that earlier conversation with Patel. He said in an email, “Had Welty accepted our offer for materials, supplies and equipment, things may have been different.”

To that, Welty says things can be different — he just wants permission to paint it.