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Tamalpais Maiden.

Giant Nude Woman

Field review by the editors.

Greenbrae, California

Judging by the metal perm hairdo on this giant nude woman, we figured she materialized here to distract drivers sometime in the 1980s. It is, in fact, a 1988 sculptural work by artist Dennis Patton. But why is she sprawled at the entrance of a shopping center, soaking in the sun in a Marin County micro-climate?

The 17-ft. long lady, made from Cor-Ten steel, is not called "Hot Tub Sleepover," as we guessed -- the title of the piece is "Tamalpais Maiden." The word "tamalpais" in the local native American language translates to "sleeping lady," and the area's highest geologic feature -- Mt. Tamalpais -- languidly snores in the background.

In the late 1980s the statue was placed in front of the Bon Air Shopping Center to spark local interest and fund-raising for a proposed [clothed] statue of explorer Sir Francis Drake (the shopping center is on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard).

That effort succeeded, and by 1990 Patton's 30-ft. tall Drake was wielding his sword and flag in a park in nearby Larkspur -- too far away for him to eye the sleeping lady. The shopping center liked her so much they left her in permanent slumber.

Giant Nude Woman

Bon Air Shopping Center

Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Greenbrae, CA
Off St. Hwy 101 exit west, along Francis Drake Blvd. on left at entrance to Bon Air Shopping Center.
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