(Article written by Spike Dolomite, dated May 1, 2015 for NoHoArtsDistrict.com.
Kent Twitchell, the muralist who has been painting larger than life portraits on buildings throughout Los Angeles since the early 70s, is currently recreating his “Freeway Lady” on the Student Services Building at LA Valley College.
Originally painted in 1974 on the side of the Prince Hotel in Echo Park (22’ x 30’), it has been destroyed twice.
The first time was in 1986 when it was painted over by a billboard company. In 1992 he won a major legal victory for legal protection for murals when he was awarded damages for the destruction of the mural. After it was restored, it was tagged in 2000.
The LAVC Public Art Committee selected the repainting of the “Freeway Lady” in 2010, the first project to be commissioned on campus. Students are assisting Twitchell and a documentary of the installation is being filmed by the college.
“Freeway Lady” is a tribute to Kent Twitchell’s grandmother.
His model was character actress Lillian Bronson, who reminded Twitchell of his grandmother.
Twitchell has been painting murals since the late 60s and has painted over 100 murals across the country to date. His work can be found on walls, in art textbooks, magazines, newspapers and film. Some of his work is in permanent collections in several art museums.
He’s a co-founder of the Mural Conservancy in Los Angeles, which is very active right now, restoring murals throughout the city.
In 2008 he settled a lawsuit against the US Government and 12 other defendants for painting over one of his other murals, a 70’ tall landmark mural of Los Angeles pop artist, Edward Ruscha. The $1.1 million settlement is the largest settlement under the Federal Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) or the California Art Preservation Act (CAPA). VARA and CAPA forbid desecration, alteration, or destruction of certain public works of art without prior notice to the artist to allow for removal (90 days), winning the case that when it comes to public art, you have to respect the artist’s rights or incur liability.
One of Twitchell’s murals painted in 1991 can be seen now in Los Angeles – the “LA Harbor Freeway Overture” (portraits of members of the LA Chamber Orchestra) on the wall of the Citicorp Plaza parking structure facing the Harbor Freeway (110) at 8th Street. His “LA Marathon” mural, painted in the late 80’s will become an LA ArtShare billboard soon.