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North Richland Hills plans digital mural repair

Art purists may debate whether a mural in a local park is getting restored or replaced.

North Richland Hills city officials are using digital technology to repair damage to a 50-foot mural in North Richland Hills’ Ace Park. “I Luv New York,” which depicts a bustling day in Manhattan, was damaged in April after being repeatedly hit by a soccer ball. City workers have since taken down the mural and put it away for safe keeping, said Bill Thorton, assistant director of parks and recreation for the city.

“There were a few pieces that had cracked and had fallen out,” Thorton said.

Rather than having the artist repaint the piece, the North Richland Hills City Council agreed earlier this month to hire a digital graphic designer to create a replacement mural.

A photographer has already taken digital photos of each of the 20 acrylic hand-painted 4 ft. by 5 ft panels that make up Dallas artist Michael Longhofer’s mural. The city will now hire a design firm to digitally repair the broken pieces using original photos of the mural as a guide, Thorton said.

“We’re just using computer science to reconstruct what was originally there,” Thorton said.

The digitally altered images will be used to create 20 replacement panels made of the same kind of impenetrable plastic as some of the city’s park signs, Thorton said. The new mural will be resistant to cracking and graffiti and come with a 30-year guarantee, he said.Longhofer has signed off on the idea, Thorton said.

The cost to create the new and improved mural is more than double what the city originally paid for the work, according to city documents. The city originally paid $20,000 for the mural of a New York City scene in 2007 in order to give the park an urban feel. That money came from the city’s half-cent sales tax for parks.

The digital restoration will cost $52,077, according to city documents. Insurance will pay $27,077 of that after the city pays a $25,000 deductible, which is coming out of a self insurance fund.

The restored mural is expected to be installed at Ace Park early next year.1217