Brent Herling hates graffiti. The lifelong Preston Hollow resident began his public art hobby simply by painting over the tags that popped up around his Glen Meadows neighborhood, he says.
“It started because I wanted it to be a nice neighborhood for my wife,” he says, but then it got bigger. “I’ve been trying to clean up this neighborhood for years.”
When the longstanding mural on Forest Lane was blighted with spray paint, Herling saw an opportunity. With the assistance of a group of volunteers, he restored the iconic psychedelic design in 2014, which was first painted by students of W.T. White back in the 1970s. It was a project that did not appease all of the wall’s neighbors, some of whom vocally opposed the “eyesore.”
Last year, a large chunk of the mural was destroyed when a pickup truck crashed into the wall. While no one has rebuilt the damage, Herling says he’s prepared to repaint it if and when the wall is fixed.
Meanwhile, he’s busy with another public art display on Marsh Lane at 635, after he was tired of seeing the area covered in graffiti. He got the OK from neighbors, and started painting. There were no permits, just passive approval of local city officials since his efforts did seem to keep the unwanted spray paint at bay.
“When we started painting, the graffiti pretty much stopped,” he says. “When it did come back, I had it covered in 24 hours. They just gave up.”
His nature scenes on Marsh include fields of bluebonnets, bamboo and benches — noncontroversial scenes he hopes won’t irritate the neighbors.
“I picked things that wouldn’t make people too complain-y,” he jokes.
The Marsh Lane project has been largely out of pocket, a labor of love to beautify the neighborhood. Recently, a section of the wall was taken down after it became structurally unsound. But like the Forest Lane mural, Herling is prepared to repaint what was taken down on Marsh, if and when repairs are made.
“Unfortunately it was the section with the bamboo,” he sighs. “The bamboo takes forever to paint.”