harbor freeway overture
the story behind the mural
Muralist Kent Twitchell’s mammoth works are well known in Los Angeles, his gargantuan figures standing sentinel over the urban structures they grace. Perhaps the most familiar of these mega-paintings, seen by more than 250,000 people each day as they stream north on the 110 Freeway, is Harbor Freeway Overture. Comprised of three walls of the parking structure adjacent to Seventh Street Marketplace, portraits of musicians (and one significant patron) of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra loom eight stories over downtown. Since 1994, when the third panel was completed, the mural has become a cultural icon for Los Angeles, employing a visual medium to declare the city’s status as a world center for the arts and to proclaim the city’s pride in its performing artists.
Although the work appears to be a fresco, painted directly onto the walls of the structures, it is actually painted on a non-woven media, a blend of polyester and cellulous. The 11,000 square foot, eight-story-high LACO monument consumed more than 500 gallons of paint and took nearly 2,000 hours to complete.
The first panel, to the far left and closest to the freeway, portrays violinist Julie Gigante. The two figures in the foreground of the middle panel are oboist Allan Vogel and cellist Margaret Moores. In the background of the middle panel, former and current orchestra members can be seen, including violist Roland Kato. Near the center of the group is Tachi Kiuchi, the Mitsubishi executive who arranged for funding of the mural project. The third panel, to the far right, portrays LACO’s concertmaster from 1988 to 1996, Ralph Morrison.
Julie Gigante, violin
First row: Allan Vogel, oboe; Rene Mandel, violin; Margaret Moores, cello
Second row: Tachi Kiuchi, former board member; Lisa Sutton, violin; Roy Poper, trumpet
Third row: Rowena Hammill,cello; Richard Altenbach, violin; Roland Kato, viola
Fourth row: Laura Kuennen-Poper, viola
Ralph Morrison, violin