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Historic 'Freeway Lady' Mural Reborn off the Freeway

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Kent Twitchell's 1974 mural was destroyed twice, but he's recreated it at LA Valley College

A long-lost Los Angeles mural has gotten a new lease on life in a new location. As the Daily News reports, artist Kent Twitchell has recreated his famous "Old Woman of the Freeway" on a wall at LA Valley College. The completion of the new mural was celebrated in a ceremony Thursday.

Throughout the 1970s and early '80s, an old woman with probing eyes looked down upon drivers on the 101 from the side of the old Prince Hotel. Draped in an afghan that trailed behind her into the night sky, she became known as the "Freeway Lady." Then she was painted over in 1986 by a billboard company. It was the first of many tragedies to befall a mural that Twitchell created to honor his grandmother.

A restoration attempt in 2000 was derailed by vandalism. Then, in 2004, it looked like the mural would be recreated at the Valley Institute of Visual Art in Sherman Oaks. That is, until a series of bizarre editorials and flyers stirred up local resistance to the project. In a news release, one concerned community member said that "the painting has a set of enhanced alien eyes with an astrological planetary background theme which could scare the pants off of the squeamish and substitute for any horror film poster."

Now, finally, the Freeway Lady has been reborn. Twitchell, whose celebrated murals have been victimized before, recreated the original work with a bit of help from students at the college and members of the community. New afghans were created by the Crochet Guild of Sacramento and Long Beach artist Peggy Baxter to serve as models for those draped over the old woman. In 1974, when the mural was first painted, character actress and future Fonzie grandmother Lillian Bronson sat for Twitchell. Bronson died in 1995, but the artist was able to find a sufficiently mystical-looking woman to serve as the likeness for the new painting.

The only problem? Well, the Freeway Lady no longer overlooks a freeway. Twitchell told the Daily News he was considering a few new monikers. "She could be the ‘Lady of the Valley.’ Or ‘The Valley College Lady,' [or] 'Fulton Avenue Lady,'" he said. Well, the mural is complete, but the nicknames might be a work in progress.