Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Dan Louden, 52, paints a mural at the offices of accountant Michael P Burger on F Street in Needles.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Vicky Bowden puts finishing touches on a mural painted by her friend Dan Louden on the wall of Michael P Burger's office.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Amyah Grimm, 8, stands by a mural by Dan Louden at Burger Hut on West Broadway and D Street in Needles.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

A mural by Dan Louden at Deco Foodservice on West Broadway and D Street in Needles.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

San Bernardino County Fire Capt. Marty Brown, left, asks Vicky Bowden to bring Dan Louden to discuss an idea for a mural at his fire station in Needles.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Dan Louden paints a mural at the office of accountant Michael P Burger on F Street.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Murals by Dan Louden at a Chevron gas station on Needles Highway.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Gus' Fresh Jerky on Needles Highway and K Street in Needles sports a fresh mural by Dan Louden.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Cubs Liquor on West Broadway between C and D streets in Needles has a new Dan Louden mural as well.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Dan Louden takes a break from painting.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

A Dan Louden mural decorates Miranda's Car Wash on Needles Highway and N Street.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

A mural by Dan Louden at Econo Smog & Tune on West Broadway between Quivera and Cibola streets in Needles.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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Sharp color brightens Needles, Calif.

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Sharp color brightens Needles, Calif.

The recently abandoned Overland Motel is crumbling, vacant dirt lots define downtown, and the desert outpost’s last auto dealership has finally given up the ghost, adding to the decline of the hapless hamlet baking in the California sun.

Needles, Calif., was never a salubrious desert destination; rather, it’s a last stop for gasoline before crossing into neighboring Nevada, with motorists heading east increasingly hitting the gas pedal commensurate with the accelerating desolation and decay.

But things began to look up a few months ago when a weather-beaten truck stop artist named Dan Louden dropped into the community of some 5,000 and began to brighten up the place with colorful murals, all paying homage to the storied transcontinental thoroughfare the runs straight through the town: Route 66.

Los Angeles Times photographer Irfan Khan stopped by, dusted off his cameras and proceeded to document the new Needles.

It’s hot and looking pretty sharp.

Read the full story by Phil Willon, “A touch of paint brings a desert town to life

3 Comments

  1. August 30, 2011, 5:02 pm

    I love this. I traveled the Route back in the 50′s and it was glorious! No time will ever be like that time. Outstanding.

    By: Rita Chapman
  2. October 8, 2011, 5:16 pm

    As a former Needles High student, I was saddened to hear that Needles was becoming a "ghost town". A part of my heart remains in Needles….and I hope that it rebounds. Thank you Dan for what you have done!

    By: haviomally
  3. January 4, 2012, 3:48 pm

    [...] The murals along Route 66 and other downtown buildings even caught the attention of the Los Angeles Times. [...]

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