Taylor deems teen’s art graffiti, leads to sale

Photo courtesy of David J. Mellert Sarena Hiddleson signs her artwork for buyer David J. Mellert in Taylor. Hiddleson painted the fence two years ago and now the city has deemed it graffiti.

Photo courtesy of David J. Mellert
Sarena Hiddleson signs her artwork for buyer David J. Mellert in Taylor. Hiddleson painted the fence two years ago and now the city has deemed it graffiti.

By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR – The city told the Hiddleston family to take down their fence or paint over the “graffiti” – but artist Sarena Hiddleson, 16, isn’t doing either. She sold it.

For two years people have driven by Sarena’s artwork on a fence in the 6000 block of Michael Street looking at a painting of Stitch from the movie “Lilo and Stitch” with the phrase “Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”

Last week the city deemed it graffiti following one complaint.

Sarena’s father, Rich Hiddleson, immediately went to the city after getting the notice.

“They told me they would review it and the next day called to tell me I had to take it down or paint over it or I would be ticketed,” he said.

He said he and his daughter were adamant it wasn’t being painted over.

When David Mellert heard about the issue, he offered to buy it. On Wednesday he negotiated a price with Sarena and now, he said, he owns a piece of art.

“It’s a piece of art,” Mellert said. “This was my way of taking a negative and making it a positive.”

Mellert said he isn’t certain what he will do with it, but would like to incorporate it into his 5-year-old granddaughter’s playscape in their backyard.

Mellert said he loves the colors and the message the artwork sends. He said that seeing some of the “mean things” people were saying about the teen on social media was very upsetting to him, making him more determined to have a positive ending.

“She is a bright young girl,” Mellert said of Sarena.

Mellert was forthcoming with Sarena and told her he is running for city council. He also told her why he wanted the painting. After their talk, Sarena reportedly told him that even if someone else would have offered her more money, she would have still wanted the painting to go to Mellert.

“I told her I would want to buy it, running for council or not,” he said.

Rich Hiddleson, a 40-year city resident, is happy with the resolution, but is still angry.

“I’m not real thrilled with the city,” Rich said. “They seem really stupid to me.”

He said there are areas where fences are leaning and bushes cover sidewalks and people can’t walk by.

“I don’t know what these ordinance officers are doing,” Rich said. “I think they are the kids that took names when the teacher left.”

Mellert said he does not believe that the city’s graffiti ordinance was meant for what Sarena had in her yard. He wished they could have had a different reaction.

He said the city wants to grow.

“The way we grow and increase population is by being a friendly city,” Mellert said.

He is thrilled with his first art piece.

“I like the saying, everything spoke to me about it,” Mellert said.

(Tereasa Nims can be reached at dstreporter@gmail.com.)