An artful salute to veterans

December 12, 2013 

Kent Twitchell stands under one of his towering murals in the Patriotic Hall lobby.

As the county’s Bob Hope Patriotic Hall is formally rededicated this week after an extensive renovation, a trio of murals brought to life over the past 3½ years by acclaimed L.A. artist Kent Twitchell will share the spotlight with the array of dignitaries, veterans and military bands on hand to mark the building’s transformation.

Twitchell’s murals, which reimagine the original artworks by Helen Lundeberg that mysteriously vanished from the building’s lobby sometime in the 1970s, depict veterans of many generations in patriotic scenes. This video captures Twitchell’s work in progress last year.

Twitchell’s work, called “We the People, Out of Many, One,” consists of three large tableaux, each measuring 20 feet by 12 feet. It was commissioned by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission as part of the county’s Civic Art Program.

The Patriotic Hall setting represents an unusual venue for Twitchell: the great indoors. He is best known for his massive and much-celebrated outdoor works, including “Harbor Freeway Overture,” that have helped define the L.A. cityscape for decades. But some of his greatest exterior works have been lost over the years, including the six-story high “Ed Ruscha Monument,” which was painted over by work crews in 2006. As he started work on the Patriotic Hall project, Twitchell said that he welcomed the opportunity to create art inside, since the outdoors increasingly seemed like “enemy territory.”

Although the rededication event on Friday, November 8, is not open to the public, the building is already up and running as the new home of the county’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The county’s Department of Mental Health also offers services to veterans in the building, which was originally dedicated in 1926. Other veterans service organizations are also expected to move in by the end of the year. Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, located at 1816 South Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles, has long been a familiar landmark to motorists traveling through the intersection of the 110 and 10 freeways.

Among those expected to take part Friday in the rededication is 103-year-old veteran Bea Cohen, believed to be the oldest living female veteran in California. Cohen, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II, remains an active volunteer for veterans’ causes.

The celebration of the building’s reopening after its $46 million renovation will be emceed by NBC4 weatherman Fritz Coleman. Also participating will be representatives of StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative, who will record the stories of veterans and their families at the site. Among those slated to record their stories: Kent Twitchell himself, who in addition to being a renowned muralist also is a Vietnam veteran.

"Free Ballot" is one of the three murals now on display.

"The Preamble to the Constituion"

"Free Assembly"

Posted 11/6/13

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