Jackson Death Revives Interest In Twitchell Mural - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Jackson Death Revives Interest In Twitch ell Mural

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - When a Los Angeles gallery mounted a retrospective of Kent Twitchell's work earlier this year the acclaimed painter figured the one thing everyone would want to see was his "lost" Michael Jackson mural.

Twitchell's larger-than-life vision, showing the entertainer decked out in a white suit and matching fedora, stood 100 feet tall and 60 feet wide. Once planned for the entire side of a Hollywood building, it was so big it had to be mounted in sections across a two-story gallery wall, the bottom of it strung out along the floor.

When visitors arrived, they made a beeline straight past it, stopping instead to admire Twitchell's two-story portrait of Steve McQueen.

How things have changed.

"Since Michael died my phone is just ringing off the hook," said Look gallery owner Jerri Levi, who mounted the April exhibition. Collectors from around the world have inquired about buying the mural, she said, and others have asked whether it will be displayed again.

But for now Twitchell is keeping it safely rolled up and hidden away.

"It would be nice to see something happen with it eventually," he said this week. "But I don't want to just hawk it and I wouldn't want to get involved in something that might be seen as cheesy. I'm an artist, not an entrepreneur."

The mural was originally planned for the side of Hollywood's historic El Capitan Theatre building, and Twitchell, whose works dot the Los Angeles skyline, collaborated with Jackson on it for three years.

"The nicest guy in the world. Down to earth. Not pretentious at all," is how he remembers him.

The project, part of a Hollywood restoration taking place at the time, was shelved in 1993. Twitchell says he was never told why but suspects Jackson having become the target of a child molestation investigation that year played a role.

Originally Jackson wanted to dress in black leather for the mural, Twitchell said, but he told him he'd like to go for a classic 1930s Hollywood pose, outfitting him in something Cary Grant would have worn at the time.

"He said, 'Oh yes, I can see that,'" Twitchell recalled.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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