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CurbedWire: Ed Ruscha Mural Lawsuit Settled, Lincoln Height Loft Tours

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[Via Flickr user FMF]
DOWNTOWN: Street artists are having a good week in LA. Artist and muralist Kent Twitchell fought the law, and the law actually lost. In 2006, Kent Twitchell's 70 foot "Ed Ruscha Monument" mural at 1031 S. Hill St. was painted over--and Twitchell didn't take the paint job lightly. Twitchell sued the U.S. government and 12 other defendants, and the case has now been settled for $1.1 million. According to the official press release: “This settlement sets an important precedent which will benefit other artists,” said Mr. Twitchell. “This resolution makes it clear that when it comes to public art, you have to respect the artist’s rights, or incur significant liability.” [Art.Blogging]

LINCOLN HEIGHTS: The MAK Center for Art & Architecture L.A. at the Schindler House, the Museum of Architecture and Design, and the LA Forum are throwing a exhibition of the Daly Street Lofts in Lincoln Heights on May 17-18 and 24-25. Designed by New York-based critic and architect Joseph Giovannini, Daly Street Lofts is an adaptive re-use of an existing 23,000 square foot telephone trucking garage as live-work loft, according to the press release. [Curbed Staff]

Pasadena, CA – Renowned artist and muralist Kent Twitchell has settled his lawsuit against the U.S. Government and 12 other defendants for painting over his 70-foot tall landmark mural of Ed Ruscha, an important Los Angeles-based Pop artist. The settlement amount – $1.1 million – is believed to be the largest settlement ever under the seldom-invoked Federal Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) or the California Art Preservation Act (CAPA). VARA and CAPA forbid desecration, alteration, or destruction of certain public works of art without prior notice to the artist to allow for removal. The U.S. Government is contributing $250,000 to the settlement amount. William Brutocao, with the intellectual property law firm Sheldon Mak Rose & Anderson PC, served as Mr. Twitchell’s lead trial attorney in this complex and legally-challenging case.

“This settlement sets an important precedent which will benefit other artists,” said Mr. Twitchell. “This resolution makes it clear that when it comes to public art, you have to respect the artist’s rights, or incur significant liability.” Both an artist and muralist, Mr. Twitchell is recognized for his larger-than-life realist mural portraits, often of celebrities and artists.

Mr. Brutocao said, “This case involved important issues, such as how to put a price on a priceless work of art; the interplay of federal versus state law; the question of the ownership of the physical work; and the moral rights retained by the artist under VARA and CAPA.” Senior Counsel to the firm, Les Weinstein, and associate Eric Bjorgum worked closely with Mr. Brutocao.

Mr. Weinstein, Mr. Twitchell’s longtime personal attorney, said, “Kent Twitchell saw this as much more than an opportunity to simply vindicate his own rights. It was also the moment to sharply focus the scope and reach of VARA for the benefit of all artists.”

Between 1978 and 1987, Mr. Twitchell created the six-story tall landmark mural, “Ed Ruscha Monument” on the building at 1031 S. Hill St. owned by the U.S. Department of Labor and occupied by the Job Corps. In 2006, as part of the building’s repair, the mural was intentionally painted over. Mr. Twitchell sued under VARA and CAPA because he did not receive the legally required prior notification, which would have allowed him to make arrangements to preserve the mural.

Art consultants have determined that it may still be possible to salvage the 11,000 square-foot mural, although it may be difficult and expensive. “The settlement gives Mr. Twitchell the option to restore and move the mural within the next year,” said Mr. Brutocao. “Artists should be afforded similar options in advance as the law provides, rather than after great art is destroyed.”