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Eye of the Beholder

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A bold mural being painted on front of the Jeff Matthews Museum has caused an uproar among Galax residents, city staff and the museum's board of directors.

The mural, started last month, remains unfinished until the Galax Planning Commission decides if artists David and Brigette Payseur should continue the painting.

However, since the mural has gone up, it has attracted attention from many tourists, as well as locals, who never knew the museum even existed.

While some, like neighbor Doris Carpenter, might argue against it, this mural has led to an increase in the number of visitors to the repository of local history, including extensive Native American, wildlife and Civil War collections.

There's no such thing as bad publicity, and museum curator Tony Burcham believes the attention has sparked the curiosity of locals, as some stroll into the 31-year-old museum for the first time.

Some Hotline callers believe the amateur art critics should just stay out of it, while others believe people like Carpenter have good reason to protest.

Since some of the damage is done, maybe the critics should give the mural a chance. Once it is finished, perhaps it will be something they will be proud of.

And maybe the city has learned its lesson. The next time Galax decides that a large mural should be painted on a city-owned building, maybe they will notify citizens first to avoid the shock and confusion.