Kent Twitchell's mural at Olympic and Hope of artist Ed Ruscha was found destroyed Friday, but no one took the blame for ordering it painted over. "It's always been such a popular piece in the art world and in Los Angeles. I had no idea it was in danger in any way," Twitchell told the Times. "It will take a while for the shock to wear off. It was sort of my 'Mona Lisa'; I worked on it for nine years." He plans a lawsuit, if the responsible party can be found. The six-story mural was painted between 1978 and 1987 on the wall of what is now a Job Corps program building at 1031 South Hill Street. Conservationist Nathan Zakheim, who had been starting to restore the mural, said an on-site supervisor referred him to Southern California Contractors, whose president declined comment and referred the Times to the U.S. Department of Labor. A spokesman there said he would look into it.
Zakheim said creators of murals typically [by law] must be given 90 days to respond before a work can be destroyed.
"We could have protected the piece, we could have protected the paint, we could have hibernated it," Zakheim said, referring to a technique by which a mural is treated with paint that can be removed later. "There are a whole bunch of options besides destroying it....It's probably his most known mural."
Los Angeles has a thing about obliterating well-known murals. Two of David Alfaro Siqueiros' 1932 works are in varying stages of restoration after being painted over at Olvera Street and the former Chouinard School of Art. A Maxine Albro depiction of Roman Sibyls was whitewashed at the Ebell women's club on Wilshire because the uninhibited scene disturbed some of the inhibited members, and Twitchell's own Freeway Lady has been damaged and defended in the past.