Artworks
Shopping Mall
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ajardini's picture

Sr. Editor

If you’re afraid of heights, this incredible painting by James Doolin might make you a little queasy. 

Doolin’s got the bird’s-eye view of the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, an outside mall of sorts by the beach in Southern California. It took him years of studying the area, doing baffling mathematical calculations on perspective and even taking helicopter rides to complete this stunningly accurate image.  He climbed up on the roof of every business that would let him and took pictures from every angle, hopefully not being mistaken for a perverted peeping tom in the process.  (I would be pretty freaked if I saw a camera lens through a dressing room window!)

As a Los Angeleno myself, I loved seeing this record of how the Promenade looked in the 1970s.  Where now it seems like an endless hallway of corporate stores like GAP and Urban Outfitters, Doolin’s painting shows a simpler time, with Mom and Pop donut shops and most importantly, way less people. 

Maybe that’s not to be chalked up to nostalgia, but to Doolin’s skill for making boring urban landscapes seem electric.  Who are these bell-bottom clad people?  Where were they going, what where they doing, thinking?  The perspective is so strange it’s like a surveillance camera, forcing you to anticipate what will happen next.