Murray Hill mural featuring actor going up amid controversy

Murray Hill mural featuring actor going up amid controversy

February 25, 2020 Storytelling 0

Author: Abigail Curran (First Coast News)

Published: 2:22 PM EST February 14, 2020

Updated: 6:14 PM EST February 24, 2020


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Murray Hill has been an up and coming area for a while now. They have had about a dozen murals go up in the last couple of years. Some of those murals were even vandalized in 2018.

One local artist saw a need for some color as you enter the neighborhood so he put up some new art on Plymouth Street.It was finished Saturday, Feb 22. It’s right at the entrance to Murray Hill and before it was finished it was getting some push back.

Jason Tetlak is painting the 80-foot blank wall. For reference that’s the length of two t-rex! 

“The intention was to be super bright and colorful, to draw attention to the neighborhood,” he said.

Murray Hill Mural featuring Bill Murray started going up Feb 10, 2020
Murray Hill Mural featuring Bill Murray started going up Feb 10, 2020

Marcus Hill owns Holy Smoke Barbecue Food Truck. He’s seen the neighborhood change in the years he’s been in the same spot. First Coast News showed him the rendering of what the mural was going to be. 

“I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “I don’t have an issue with it.”

Ray Harris was excited when First Coast News dropped by Maple Street Biscuit Company to ask if anyone knew about the new Bill Murray mural going up. 

“Oh the colors!” Harris said. “Yeah, just the almost neon colors that are popping out. I think it will look good when it’s done.” 

Moon River Pizza Staff member Brittany Belda was also excited. 

“Yeah I love it,” she said. “I think it’s beautiful. I love all the colors. I think it’s bright, it’s inviting. Which is important because it’s the first thing people see when they come over the railroad tracks right into Murray Hill.”

This is what the finished product is supposed to look like for the mural going up in Murray Hill featuring Bill Murray
This is what the finished product is supposed to look like for the mural going up in Murray Hill featuring Bill Murray

But not everyone is a fan. First Coast news showed Ali Obalithe the rendering. He didn’t know the mural was going up. He is the owner of the Salt & Pepper food truck and he wasn’t impressed 

“To be honest it’s not my style,” he said. “I don’t like it. I [would] like to have a mural in the neighborhood but not like that.”

Tetlak is trying to brush off the negativity. 

“Of course I would love it if everybody was super excited and loved everything I did but realistically there are always going to be people that aren’t going to care for the product,” he said. “So I just try to block that out a little bit.”

Tetlak originally brought the design to The Murray Hill Merchants Association.

“And it didn’t look like they were going to be able to help me do the funding part of it I was hoping for,” he said. “So, I just changed, pivoted and went a different direction and decided to crowdsource it instead.” 

He ended up raising all the money he needed through a Kickstarter campaign and got to work.

A change.org petition has been started to try and change the design. It has over 100 signatures. But most of the workers we spoke with were really supportive of the idea. 

“Bill Murray’s Great,” said Belda. “I wish there was someone that everyone loved. But you can’t please everyone.”

Harris believes the mural “is better than having a blank canvas.”

Hill likes the idea of using the actor as the centerpiece.

“Bill Murray is a good choice though,” Hill said. “Like I say his last name goes along with the area, so why not use Bill Murray.”

“It’s just a fun project,” says Tetlak “That’s the whole point of it is to have fun.”

Many of the business owners we were told opposed the project were not available for an interview. 

“I understand there are people who maybe don’t like the subject matter,” Tetlak said. “I could have put anything here and someone would have complained about it.”

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