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Holy art show, Batman! Adam West paints his vision

By Alan Duke, CNN
Adam West, who became a pop icon with his original portrayal of Batman 45 years ago, is now offering a different portrait.
Adam West, who became a pop icon with his original portrayal of Batman 45 years ago, is now offering a different portrait.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Adam West began painting privately 40 years ago
  • His art is "cultural pop art expressionist"
  • West says he's opening "a new phase" of his career

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Adam West became a pop icon with his original portrayal of Batman 45 years ago, but the actor is now offering a different portrait of the caped crusader.

West will drive the original Batmobile to a Beverly Hills, California, art gallery for the opening of the first exhibit of his paintings and drawings depicting his vision of Batman and his crime-fighting world Friday evening.

"The pictures are pretty raw and untamed, just like me," West said as he prepared for the exhibit, which will run for a month at the David W. Streets Beverly Hills Art Gallery.

West is a "cultural pop art expressionist," said gallery owner Streets.

"This is a huge genre coming out of pop culture, American television history and culture," Streets said. "It's really a tremendous art form and really fun."

The energetic 82-year-old West said it was time "to open up a new phase" of his career.

"After 45 years of doing all this nonsense, who better to bring it to life in paintings or drawings than the guy who created the character for film," West said. "People seem to like it and respond to it."

One painting titled "The Birth of Batman," is a surrealist depiction of the pain and agony of a young Bruce Wayne's transformation from an orphan to a superhero, he said.

"Batman saw his parents murdered in front of him as a little boy and, of course, he had to train for many years to create the kind of avenger crime fighter that he is," West said. "So, this represents a really tough birth."

Another frame holds what West said is his "sense in some kind of dream of Bruce Wayne."

West has kept busy in recent years attending fan conventions, but he still is in demand as an actor. He is a regular on "Family Guy," playing Mayor West on the animated Fox series.

"In a very real sense, I represent pop culture in an iconic way," West said. "It's been very good to me, so anything I can do to help the fans to tumble along -- it's good."

West began painting "without anyone knowing, except the folks in my household, about 40 years ago," he said. Few people have seen his art work until now.

"I'm flattered that they want to pay money for my pictures," he said. "It's terrific."

The gallery opening Friday night promises to be a reunion for the original Batman cast with the first Catwoman, Julie Newmar, and sidekick Robin,played by Burt Ward, also expected.

 
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