LAM Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition “Kent Twitchell: The Man Who Paints Giants” (April 2 – May 14, 2016) featuring Kent
Twitchell’s newest mural – a super-sized portrait of artist Ed Ruscha, which will grace the exterior of the American Hotel in Downtown Los
Angeles Arts District. Included in the show will be a section of the actual mural, as well as various preparatory studies leading up to it. A
selection of photographs and drawings of his previous work will also be shown. “Kent has not had a gallery show to this extent, fully
focused on him and his mural work,” says gallery founder Winnie Lam, “ and he certainly deserves it.”
In a city noted for its many outdoor murals, Twitchell is one of the most recognized and lauded muralists. Over a five-decade career he
has completed some 100 portraits, within some 30 murals, most of them around downtown Los Angeles. These include portraits of artists
Ed Ruscha, Jim Morphesis, Lita Albuquerque, and Gary Lloyd and members of the L. A. Chamber Orchestra. Outside of L. A., the artist
has completed mural portraits of basketball legend Dr. J (Julius Erving) in Philadelphia and of theatrical renown Ruby Dee for Cleveland.
Twitchell paints in a meticulously Realist style, usually featuring a solo figure looking directly out from the frame, at the viewer, in a
Kent Twitchell was born in 1942 in Lansing, Michigan, and raised on a farm in Dimondale. He began drawing when he was three, and af-
ter high school he joined the United States Air Force because they had a need for illustrators. Later he moved to Los Angeles and studied
art at East Los Angeles College (AA, 1968), California State University, Los Angeles (BA, 1972), and Otis College of Art & Design (MFA,
1977). In the late 1960s he participated in the Street Art movement , and eventually started painting a series of murals called
“Monuments to American Cultural Heroes,” starting with the “Steve McQueen Monument” in 1971 near downtown L.A.
In 1973 Twitchell began work on his first commission, “Bride and Groom” -- a five-story mural for the Monarch Bridal Shop, which was in
the same downtown building where he was a tenant. The double portrait of a handsomely outfitted couple, ready for their wedding, took
him three years to complete. (Today the words “Victor Clothing” cover the original ones.) This mammoth project was followed by “The
Freeway Lady,” which showed an elderly woman proudly holding an afghan over her chest – the afghan was modeled after one crocheted
by Twitchell’s own grandmother who lived in Hollywood.
In the late 1970s Twitchell began his artists series, which began with one of the city’s most celebrated artists, Ed Ruscha. Painted 70-foot
tall on the side of a downtown building, this full-length portrait of the artist in a red silk shirt and pleated slacks took almost 9 years to
complete because it was self-funded and there were other projects that came to him during that time. Why did he choose Ruscha as his
first artist? “It was a gut decision,” says Twitchell. “He was and is unique and seemed to characterize the American Individualist to me as
McQueen did in the film world. The original site on Hill Street in downtown L.A. just fell in my lap.”
Unfortunately, during renovation of the building in 2006, the mural was whitewashed without Twitchell’s permission. For years he has
wanted to do the portrait again, and recently the opportunity to do so came up. He took new photographs of Ruscha, and changed the
pose, so the new mural will feature Ruscha as he is today. The new mural will be completed in Twitchell’s studio, then installed on the side
of the American Hotel sometime at the end of summer. The Lam Gallery show will be a special opportunity for the public to see a section
of the portrait up close.
Twitchell is pleased to have a chance to redo his Ruscha mural. “We lose so many things, like trees and buildings,” he said in an interview
with the Los Angeles Times last year. “To have something from our past, that began to mean something to us in the city, come back and be appreciated-it's kind of a magical thing".