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Dreamscapes: Local artist Lars Gradel draws intricately detailed imaginary cities

<p>Westside City 2010 by Lars Gradel</p>Buy Photo

Westside City 2010 by Lars Gradel

<p>Westside City 2020 by Lars Gradel</p>

Westside City 2020 by Lars Gradel

<p>Westside City 1930 by Lars Gradel</p>

Westside City 1930 by Lars Gradel

How did you start doing these?

When I was probably in the fifth grade here in Las Vegas, probably in 1988 or ’89 I did my first city drawing. It was a city on another planet, and it was shown in the Nevada Young Writers book and it was displayed at the Boulevard Mall back then. That was the first city drawing I had ever done, and I’ve been doing city drawings ever since then.

My inspiration comes from a lot of movies or television shows, like sci-fi movies, horror movies. A lot of things on TV inspire me, and traveling has inspired me a lot.

How did you come up with the concept for “Westside City,” three drawings depicting a city during three different eras?

I think from learning a lot about global warming and the way the world is today and what people expect of how architecture and city planning will go in the future based on what’s happening with the world today, with rising sea levels, the ice caps melting, certain social issues like that.

The original city drawing was done by hand in pencil. When I scanned that onto the computer, I realized I could do three different versions of the same city with Photoshop. That inspired me to see what that original city drawing would look like if that city decided to grow and age. The No. 1 thing I thought of was the rising sea level and the hurricanes going on and the whole New Orleans thing happening. I just thought, “What would the city look like if the sea level had risen so much?”

What landmarks are in there?

You can see the First Interstate Tower from L.A., the Space Needle in Seattle. Along one of the rivers, there are buildings from Chicago.

How long does it take you to complete a drawing?

The original pencil drawing, which was about 24 inches high by 36 wide, would average between six months to a year. I have one where I took the original drawing and had it enlarged on a huge sheet of paper, about 48 inches wide. I colored the whole thing by hand and it took me over two years. They’re pretty detailed, and they take a long time.