In memory

Artist puts brush to canvas to mourn loss of bar

LARA BRANCA holds up a painting she did in memory of the Hollywood Bar, where she was a bartender for three years. A series of paintings in memory of the bar will be on display at the Sideshow starting Saturday.


It has been said that art can heal, and nothing can be more true for Dolores artist Lara Branca.

Nearly eight months ago, Branca locked the doors to the Hollywood Bar for the last time. Thirty minutes after she went home, a fire was reported and soon the historical bar where Branca was a bartender at for three years was up in flames. The bar where she met so many people was then roped off, a crime scene.

Arson was suspected and to this day nobody has been caught.

For Branca the bar was more than just a work place, it was a home. It was a place full of memories.

As a painter, Branca said she wants to paint lots of things, but she had to paint the Hollywood first.

"It has been really emotional doing these paintings," Branca said. "I'm just trying to honor the space, capture the movement and the feel."

Five paintings in memory of the Hollywood will be on display at the Sideshow Emporium and Gallery starting Saturday as part of a show titled "Rural Gothic."

Because Branca misses the bar so much, she often found herself in tears while painting, she said.

"I spent thousands of hours there," she said.

She often found it easy to paint because of this.

"It's unique paining a space you spent so much time in," she said. "I would just know if something didn't look right."

When Branca is finished with the series, she hopes to move on.

"I'm calling the pieces 'In Memoriam' to acknowledge the space that died, because that space did die. Even if it is rebuilt, it won't be the same."

So far, no word has been received to the Star of any plans to rebuild the Hollywood and the Montezuma County Sheriff's Department recently told the Star that they are no longer actively investigating the fire.

"It's been a healing process," she said about the painting.

Branca said her large oil painting titled "The Wood" conveys a feeling of light, movement and emotion. The colors are warm, like fire.

For more information on Branca and her art go to larabranca.net.

LARA BRANCA paintiin her studio Tuesday inside her Dolores studio. The paintings will be on display at the Sideshow in Dolores starting this Saturday. Enlargephoto

SHANNON LIVICK/STAR

LARA BRANCA paintiin her studio Tuesday inside her Dolores studio. The paintings will be on display at the Sideshow in Dolores starting this Saturday.

LARA BRANCA holds up a painting she did in memory of the Hollywood Bar, where she was a bartender for three years. A series of paintings in memory of the bar will be on display at the Sideshow starting Saturday. Enlargephoto

SHANNON LIVICK/STAR

LARA BRANCA holds up a painting she did in memory of the Hollywood Bar, where she was a bartender for three years. A series of paintings in memory of the bar will be on display at the Sideshow starting Saturday.