Signs of the Times

Formerly a sculptor of wild papier-mâché cowboys and bikers, longtime Lakewood resident Al Orahood switched somewhere along the way to painting. But even working in a new medium, Orahood still chose a workingman’s subject: the weathered neon signs of West Colfax Avenue, the ones that announce such run-down and evocative destinations as the White Swan and B ig Bunny (Colfax aficionados all know the story of how it used to be the Bugs Bunny Motel until Warner Bros. made a stink about it more than a decade ago). An exhibit of this work, Signs: Echoes of Lakewood's Past, goes on display today in the Radius Gallery at Lakewood's Heritage Center.

“Al’s a funny guy who approaches everything with irreverent wit,” says museum curator Lorene Joos. “But when he switched to painting, it was in a photorealist style, using the palette of the faded signs.” The resulting works cast an elegiac vibe that’s especially poignant as Lakewood’s Colfax Corridor goes through major changes and urban renewal projects.

Signs continues through March 27; beginning at 6:30 p.m. on February 16, the Heritage Center, 801 South Yarrow Street in Lakewood, will team with Lakewood Economic Development to present an artist talk, followed by a discussion with an LED expert on Colfax’s civic past and present. Get details at or call 303-987-7850.
Dec. 29-March 27, 2009

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd

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