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Fairey, Twitchell and Noir brainstorm on L.A.'s Wall Project*

August 12, 2009 | 11:00 am

Shepard Fairey 

In my exclusive story in today's Calendar section on the Wall Project -- an ambitious effort spearheaded by the Wende Museum of the Cold War that calls for erecting a symbolic Berlin Wall across busy Wilshire Boulevard in November, on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the real wall in Berlin -- it was revealed that Los Angeles artists Shepard Fairey (above with his iconic "Hope" poster for Barack Obama) and Kent Twitchell, along with Berlin-based Frenchman Thierry Noir, will be the key artists lending their work to the project. In fact, all three will do at least some of their painting on panels that will become part of the Wall Project in public spaces, where passers-by can watch the process.

As mentioned in the story, muralist Twitchell (recently in the news because of his 100-foot-tall mural of the late Michael Jackson, which was never mounted in an outdoor public space) plans to create portraits of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, the presidents leading the country, respectively, when the wall rose and when it fell. In recent weeks, Twitchell has been combing through the archives of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley for photos to inspire his work. "I think I've found the ones I want," he said. "Kennedy looks so young, and Reagan looks so old -- when I put them side to side, they almost look like father and son."  (*Update: An earlier version of this report incorrectly referred to John F. Kennedy as Robert F. Kennedy)

In a conversation this morning Fairey also offered some of this plans. Although not wanting...

Thierry Noir portion of the wall to be specific -- "I don't want to metaphorically or literally paint myself into a corner," he joked -- Fairey says he is most likely going to make an "antiwar, anti-containment piece" that makes a parallel to the Wall of Palestine.

"My feeling is that of course it's a very complicated situation, but I'm a believer that you can't punish the many for the crimes of the few," Fairey says."I believe in [former President Jimmy] Carter's assessment that there is an apartheid situation there."

He said the piece will not be deliberately inflammatory but, he trusts, provocative.

The chance to be part of the Wall Project 2009 is particularly exciting for Frenchman Noir, credited with being the first artist to paint on the real Berlin Wall -- beginning the effort in 1984, five years before the wall came down. A portion of the Berlin Wall painted by Noir is preserved outside the Wende Museum in Culver City.

Noir says that he will spend 10 days in Los Angeles.  His painting for the Wall Project, he says, will certainly include the simple, colorful human figures and faces that are his signature. "I'm not going to paint trees," he joked. He developed the simple style at the Berlin Wall because it was illegal for him to paint there and he had to paint fast. "I reduced my painting to a minimum," he says.

Noir says that he draws a parallel between the Berlin Wall and the U.S.-Mexico border. "Our Wall Project is good; it is a good time now to make the point that every wall is not built forever," he says.

-- Diane Haithman

Photos: Shepard Fairey. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles Times; Outside the Wende Museum, a chunk of the Berlin Wall bears a Thierry Noir mural on the portion that faced west. Credit: Wende Museum.


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