Northwest Dallas Man Will Restore Enormous Forest Lane Mural, Whether Anyone Helps Him Or Not

Categories: Neighborhoods

ForestLaneMuralRestoration.jpg
Helping to Paint the Wall on Forest Lane Facebook page
Brent Herling has a confession to make.

"I'm the one that put SpongeBob on the wall."

The sudden appearance of the cartoon sponge sparked a minor uproar in 2011 among purists who wanted to preserve W.T. White students' 1976 mural, which covers a half mile of wall along Forest Lane, in its original condition. Cathy Miller McCoppin, one of the original student artists, described her mood to us at the time as "infuriated."

Herling meant no harm. "A Corvette hit the wall way back in the early 2000s and took out the last, I dunno, 50, 60 feet of the wall." The city eventually replaced the missing section but not the artwork. Someone inelegantly scrawled the word "GOOF" across the blank section, and so it stayed for several years before Herling, a TI engineer and amateur sculptor, picked up his paint brush.

See also: Efforts Are Afoot to Restore Forest Lane Brick-Wall Mural to Its Original 1976 Look

Recently, to the dismay of his wife and some neighbors who felt it captured the original mural in spirit, if not detail, he painted over SpongeBob and began recreating the original artwork, which includes the Mayflower and the Starship Enterprise.

Nor is Herling stopping there. He's calling on anyone who cares to show up -- neighbors, W.T. White students and alums, random passersby -- to help restore the mural.

It's a mammoth task. A similar restoration effort in 1993, he says, took three years. Herling, with some help (Fox 4 reporter Heather Hays stopped by with her daughters last weekend) hopes the current effort can be finished much, much sooner.

Why is Herling doing this? The most immediate cause was a rumor that some in a neighboring homeowners association had proposed painting the wall beige, which he feared would invite graffiti and destroy a quirky piece of neighborhood history.

More generally, Herling is just kind of obsessive about keeping the neighborhood he grew up in looking nice. Any piece of graffiti that appears on the wall he covers within 24 hours, generally under cover of night so as not to attract the notice of gang members who are usually the ones tagging the wall.

He boasts of once spending two weeks clearing every piece of graffiti along Forest Lane between Central Expressway and Harry Hines Boulevard and Central Expressway.

So, you can bet that Herling will finish restoring the mural whether anyone chips in or not. He'd much prefer, though, to have as many helpers as possible. He'll be out there with paint and brushes by 10 a.m. Saturday.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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24 comments
ljwk5464
ljwk5464

Huge difference between repainting and restoring. This guy is repainting a Dallas icon. I grew up with the wall. I saw the repainting in the 90's and thought is was better than it's turning out now. These are terracotta colors and far from the original colors and the details are left out. So many who are working on the wall now don't have a clue to the story behind the artwork or care that the colors are off. I'd have put in so much more work if I saw he was truly trying to restore it back to it's glory. I have a deep love for the original work. I'm sorry that others do not. To me, it's like taking the Mona Lisa and having a 3 year old paint over it.He was given the chance to do it right from the beginning, but he didn't want to take the time to hear about the snags that were holding up start. I give him credit for getting people out there and repainting. Pretty good job, but with the stubborn streak he has, he's left a bitter taste to many who said they want the original back. I think it's an honor to restore it. For those who put in all their hard work to make it back in '76.


So, don't get mad with me about my passion for wanting the wall done correctly. Be passionate about doing what is right!

stuffhappens
stuffhappens

I don't think the painting is a copy of the original. What a shame, as so many from those days still live in the area or come back to the area for cruise reunions. Yet as of tonight, Sponge Bob is again on the wall along with someone's name written on the car and the date of 1990.  This is not the 1976 artwork!

fatnhappyintexas
fatnhappyintexas

I was part of the wall restoration in the early 90's.  We worked from photographs of the original art work and tried very hard to duplicate it in all it's detail and color.  It took us 3 entire summers to paint the entire wall.  I question the comment that someone from the HOA wanted to paint the wall beige.  Don't believe that unless you hear it directly from the Homeowners Association. 

madoxatlast
madoxatlast

Brent Herling is an asshole. He is not preserving the original art work, regardless of how HARD the community has had to work to pull it all together. Even the city said it had to be redone with its original pieces, and this stubborn self entitled jack hole thinks he can sponge bob a piece of North Dallas history because he and his kids dont have any other real contribution to the neighborhood. Also, a half dozen of the original artists, the W.T. White students of the 70's, have disassociated with him over his refusal to preserve the original art.

dingo
dingo

I wish someone had photodoc'd the wall's original graffiti (covered up by the 1976 W.T.White beautify project). There were some truly enriching recitations crafted by the Randall 'Pink' Floyds of the era.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

It's an ugly mural, but it's also not my hood. So good for him.

LukeW34
LukeW34

Is there a Facebook page or any additional info you can give to people who would like to help?

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

"The most immediate cause was a rumor that some in a neighboring homeowners association had proposed painting the wall beige, which he feared would invite graffiti and destroy a quirky piece of neighborhood history."


He is right. It's something I've noticed. The people who do tagging/graffiti tend to not hit places with murals. 

As an aside, I think painting over the mural with a solid color would be a great way to lower the property values in the area.


Also, how old does something have to be before it gets historical protection? I would think that at this point, the mural qualifies.

sditype
sditype

@stuffhappens The car has now been replaced with the original school bus, spongebob is no longer shown waiting to paint and almost all the wall is repainted.  Please come out Saturday June 21st to help finish our landmark.


sgaines44
sgaines44

@madoxatlast You're an jerk for bringing his kids into this.  What a severe lack of class on your part.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

@LukeW34 check the comment section of the 2011 story linked above.

michellehaddad
michellehaddad

Anyone that would suggest painting over the mural with solid paint must be a very sad, lonely and dull person.

daychat7
daychat7

I would rather it be painted beige than have this guy change it. Do it correctly or don't do it at all. It is offensive to so many people that he would change a work of art, a neighborhood icon. Just use the original colors and let someone who is an artist do the art work. And shame on him for adding SpongeBob. That has no place on this mural. Why doesn't he just paint a picture of himself on it while he's at it

btexan
btexan

@daychat7   Please come out Saturday.  Pick an area that you think is incorrect and I'll help blend all the colors of some part you feel could be better.  All help is welcome.  We are all doing our best with what information we have so if you have any color preferences you should come and start applying them Saturday at 9:00am.  All the paint you can use will be provided free.  It sounds like you have valuable inputs so please put them to use if you care to.   

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