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Only on ABC7: First look at Jackson mural

July 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The death of Michael Jackson has drawn new attention to a giant mural of the King of Pop, which was created years ago and was never put on public display. Eyewitness News had an exclusive look at the mural with the artist.Kent Twitchell doesn't have the most familiar face, but his murals certainly do. He's the artist behind the mural paintings of the Freeway Lady, the L.A. Marathon and the L.A. Chamber Orchestra.

"I've been painting all my life," says Twitchell.

The murals have been seen by millions of motorists over the years. But no human eyes have ever seen Twitchell's potentially most famous painting. In fact, he hasn't even seen it in its finished state.

"It's 100 feet high, by 60 feet wide. So, it's ten stories tall by six stories wide," says Twitchell.

Twitchell spent about four years hand painting the mural of Michael Jackson back in the early 1990s. Twitchell set up a small part of it in his studio, so Eyewitness News cameras could catch a glimpse. It was supposed to hang on the front of the El Capitan Theatre. However, when the deal fell through, the massive painting sat in storage. Dozens of 33-inch wide swats were out of sight and out of mind for more than 15 years.

"I have a fantasy, I guess, about it being some place where people really, really admire Michael Jackson ... so that a lot of people can see it," said Twitchell.

Twitchell and his agent put the value of the mural at $1 million, which sounds like quite a bit of money. But, when you consider the size of the work, it adds up to quite a deal; about $1.15 per square inch. However, its size does work against it when it comes to a quick sale.

"Neverland Ranch ... I've been there. There's nothing that can even remotely accommodate a ten-story building," said Twitchell.

After Jackson's death, Twitchell had hoped to hang the mural somewhere in L.A. as a memorial to the pop star. But he says city officials shot him down based on L.A.'s new stance on supergraphics.

"It's OK to go out and put graffiti on stuff. Those people can do whatever they want. They own the city," says Twitchell. "But to put a beautiful, sort of, monument up ? no, we can't have it."

So, for now, the Michael Jackson mural will sit in pieces in Twitchell's studio. His only view of the finished project is a lap-sized rendering of the mural. Whenever Twitchell takes a look at that rendering, it is almost like a portrait of an artist in waiting ... waiting for Jackson to loom over the entertainment capital once again.

"He's coming up out of the clouds," says Twitchell. "It's like a perfect image."

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