Of all the videos I've been shooting for the California State University, working with artist Kent Twitchell was easy as pie. Not that I didn't have to get up at 3 AM to meet him in downtown Los Angeles before sunrise, or that I had to climb up two rather rickety ladders with a gear-laden backpack to shoot on the roof of a two story building.
It was an easy shoot because I could completely identify with the focus, drive and tenacity that Kent has for his work. Painting large scale murals has been his passion for over 40 years, and his iconic public art can be seen on walls, highway underpasses and homes around the city of Los Angeles. And his latest work, a mural of legendary artist Ed Ruscha is as ambitious and impressive as anything he has done over the years.
Well into his 70's, Kent is hard at work at 5:30AM. Applying paint before the heat of the day demands it, yet he accepts that challenge with grace. An unwavering commitment to his work makes the sacrifice well worthwhile.
When I think about the day we spent together, one thing keeps coming back to mind. After shooting on the roof, we drove over to Cal State Los Angeles to take some pictures in the studios he worked in as an undergraduate. The chair of the Art Department was running a bit late, so Kent and I found a studio with nice light and some easels to use as backgrounds. We shot a number of images, some environmental, some close-in portraits.
We had finished shooting when the the Art Department chair came into the room. After a few minutes of chatting, she said, "I was actually thinking about another room for the session. Would you like to see it?" Kent and I looked at each other and we both knew what the other was about to say.
To me, the difference between artists and just about everyone else is the innate curiosity and boundless drive to capture beauty. Having something in the can means nothing. Seeing what's around the corner? I'm in.