In memory of the Hollywood Bar Artist puts brush to canvas to mourn loss of popular Dolores 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 is on display at the Sideshow in Dolores. 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 is on display at the Sideshow in Dolores.

It has been said that art can heal, and nothing can be farther from the truth 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 bar where Branca was a bartender for three years was up in flames. The bar where she met so many people was then roped up, 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 painting 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 called 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 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 that destroyed it.

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

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 paints her studio Tuesday inside her Dolores studio. The paintings are on display at the Sideshow in Dolores. Enlargephoto

SHANNON LIVICK/STAR

LARA BRANCA paints her studio Tuesday inside her Dolores studio. The paintings are on display at the Sideshow in Dolores.

LARA BRANCA holds up a painting she did in memory of the Hollywood Bar, where she was a bartender for three years. 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.