The recent discovery of a preparatory drawing of the actor for this iconic mural was recently discovered! Its restoration and display at a recent 2022 exhibition got quite a bit of attention. This info has been added to this blog post about the restoration of the mural, which occurred some time ago.
Today (back in 2011), I helped Kent Twitchell finish up a couple of murals he’s been working on/restoring by applying the final varnish: one is the Stother Martin Monument located at Kingsley Drive at Fountain Avenue in Hollywood and the other is the Steve McQueen located near NW corner of Union Avenue and 12th Street, just west of Downtown LA.
At the time of this blog post, Kent was doing the restorations with the assistance of the Fresco School (see Facebook). You can see his murals and read a quick blip at:
BTW, for those of you who don’t know, Kent Twitchell is the original artist of the murals. These murals were the beginning of mural painting in LA back in the 70’s. That makes them historic I guess. Historic or not, they are really great works of art and I love them and thankful that they are being preserved for another generation.
Add-on to this article: In 2019 I was rummaging through long forgotten boxes of stuff with Kent and pulled out a preparatory planning sketch Kent made from a live session and with collaboration with the actor while doing the Steve McQueen Mural Monument. It is so cool, I thought you’d enjoy seeing it.
You can’t catch the brilliance of the artist and the “coolness” of the sketch without enlarging it close up to see the “pixillation” Kent does to render his subject. Yet, from afar, it looks photographic. This sketch is 45″ tall x 24″ wide. Here’s another photo of the mural.
During 1971, early Los Angeles public artist Kent Twitchell painted his first realistic mural. He called it “Steve McQueen Monument” and pictures of it began appearing in newspapers everywhere, a two-story cool blue phantom coming out of a house a few blocks west (12th Street and Union Avenue) of Downtown Los Angeles.
The mural stood as a landmark for nearly 30 years, possibly the oldest extant LA Mural of the movement that influenced similar movements throughout the world. Then it was mysteriously painted out. Rumor was that a family from a different country had moved into the house. They did not speak English and did not realize its cultural importance to the City. Eight years later Graduate Art History major Fernando Cervantes, working on a paper about the art of Kent Twitchell, took it upon himself to go to the house and knock on the door. He discovered that yes, there were language issues but the new owners very much wanted the mural restored. Workers had painted it out by accident.
Twitchell decided this was the ideal time to restore his landmark monument, the 30th year after his favorite actor’s death. As he completed the restoration, he solicited the expertise and assistance of renown Los Angels art conservator, Scott M. Haskins to help him with an anti-graffiti coating to give maintenance efforts a chance at prolonging the live of the beloved mural.
Interested in knowing how to better protect public art and murals from graffiti? See the article I wrote on Street Art vs. Graffiti Vandals at http://bit.ly/qKySHP
Questions about mural conservation? Call Scott M. Haskins at 805 564 3438
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This is such a great mural of an iconic Hollywood actor. I love everything about it. Good on you by helping to preserve and protect it. Thanks!
Earl, yeah, I love this image too. Kent Twitchell (the artist) is amazing.
I was suggested this website by my cousin who paints with me. I am amazed that some one else know such detailed about my problem protecting my murals. You’re amazing! Thanks!
You’ve brought up some good things to think about! I appreciate it.
We are a group of volunteers hoping to save an historic mural in our community. Your website and videos provided us with valuable info to work on. We’ll be in touch and thanks.
Jacques, call me when you are ready! 805 564 3438 office
You’re team for restoring this mural is amazing. How you guys would be able to put this back together is incredible after so many problems. Thanks for your efforts. I love this mural, it quality and what it says about our city.
This mural kind of takes you by surprise to see it all of a sudden as you are driving by. I looked up an older photo of the mural and there was a tree in the way of viewing the mural from the street that’s been removed, so you can see it better now. You have rightly said that these historical images and quality artworks should be preserved for the next generations… but heck!… they should be saved for OUR generation! Thanks for your work and this blog post. Great stuff…
Thanks a lot for providing the links on Steve McQueen and Strother Martin. Hope it would help those who want to know more about these great personalities. I too would like to go through the various links you have provided. Must thank you for sharing such a brilliant post.
Hats off to Kent Twitchell and his men for completing this fantastic work. Really a nice way to remember Steve McQueen, the great actor. The monument and the mural painting would not only enhance the beauty of the city but also an awesome way to make him still alive among us.
While crossing the street near the mural on that day you were working on it, I was really curious to see the final job after completion of the varnish. So, how cool is it that I find this blog post from the guy that did the work?!!! Its great to see the painting looking almost new. I too believe it’s the best way to protect these great works from grafitti.
These master pieces are really very much necessary to preserve and I love this mural of Steve McQueen!. Had no idea about the way to restore mural paintings. So, reading your blog was so interesting. I think by preserving and maintaining these great works of art is the only way to keep their originality and the history associated with them.
Thanks for sharing such an informative blog. Being a fan of Steve McQueen, I always dreamt to see his monument. So while searching on him at net, came across your blog and really felt happy to know about the restoration of his monument. Must thank to all those who have put their best efforts to make the mural painting looking gorgeous.
Wow! The murals are looking great after the final varnish. Thanks for the information that Kent Twitchell is the original artist of the murals. Thanks again for the brief history on mural paintings. I am really overwhelmed to know all these. I would have missed some very precious information if I have not read your blog.
Really feeling great to know about the mural restoration of Steve McQueen, one of my favorite actors. A big thanks to Kent Twitchell for doing this commendable work. I love watching incredible paintings and hope to read such interesting blogs at your site in near future. Hope other readers have enjoyed it too.
It’s our duty to take proper care of these historical paintings. You are absolutely right. These historical works should be preserved for the generations to come. Thanks a lot for sharing the links and also for this brilliant post. I must read the article Street Art vs. Graffiti Vandals of yours.
Great blog. I really enjoyed reading it and also very much thrilled to know about the restoration of such magnificent monuments. You are doing a great job. It’s not only appreciable but also essential to restore the history of the country. I must share this with my friends too.
Fantastic and surprising blog post. This is my first time here and WOW, what a surprise to find something on one of my favorite actors. That’s why this mural has always been a favorite of mine. I was so sad when it got painted out and I thought it was gone. But then, magic! Incredibly, it reappeared! Thanks to Kent Twitchell for his labor of love and to all those who helped him. Its great to see that there are efforts no only to do a quality job but to do whatever you can to make it last. Congratulations! Great work… and thanks again!
Steve McQueen was such a memorable actor and its great that someone saw the “coolness” to do him in a mural. I think this is a treasure for LA. Thanks for going to the effort to restore it.
Yea, I feel the same way about this mural. Its really great to see.
Woah this blog is incredible with such interesting posts and projects. I really like looking over the great paintings! I’ve signed up for updates. Keep up the good work.
Back to you with a response. Kent tried to leave this comment directly but something didn’t work for him and he wasn’t able to leave it. So he forwarded his comment to me to post for him:
“McQueen first found the mural one night as he was driving around LA in his old pickup. When he got home he woke up his son Chad and told him about it. The mural was painted in 1971. Chad McQueen was interviewed about it years later in the LA Times.”
I find this mural especially interesting because it predates Steve McQueen’s death. Do you happen to know if McQueen ever stopped by to take a look? It seems like he must have passed it, especially since he was in the L.A. area for many of his final years.
I’m going to defer your question to the creator and artist of the mural, Kent Twitchell. I’ll ask him to respond, so check back on this blog for his answer and probably a pretty good story of how the mural came about to be.