By now, nearly every Denver resident has stood in line and waited to purchase bright-pink boxes of doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut at 1520 East Colfax Avenue. As a result, the decor inside this shop is nearly as familiar as the sweet toppings and goofy shapes of the doughnuts themselves: the duct-tape art, the unicorns, the eye-catching portrait of actress (and East High grad) Pam Grier done on black velvet.
That painting is more than just a kitschy, flea-market find: It's an original oil painting commissioned by the company — and now it's gone. According to Voodoo Doughnut co-founder Kenneth "Cat Daddy" Pogson, someone wandered into the shop just after midnight on Wednesday, November 28, briefly stood in front of the painting and then reached up, grabbed it and fled.
"The painting was pretty high up on the wall," he notes, "but the guy was tall!"
Pogson, who founded Voodoo Doughnut in 2003 with partner Tres Shannon, explains that every outpost of Voodoo Doughnut has its own black-velvet painting that acts as a sort of spiritual protector when a new shop opens. The tradition started at the original Voodoo in Portland, Oregon; Shannon and Pogson installed black-velvet portraits (vintage pieces that they already owned) of Isaac Hayes and Kenny Rogers. They have since installed the likeness of Conan O'Brien in the shop in Eugene, Oregon, and then continued the trend with Harry Dean Stanton (in the Hollywood store) and Carrot Top (Orlando).
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Aside from the Hayes and Rogers pieces, all of the portraits have been painted by "Juanita," a Portland artist who specializes in black velvet. So the Pam Grier portrait was not a cheap reproduction collecting dust in someone's basement; it was an original commissioned specifically for its perch on Colfax Avenue. "It's a celebration of Pam Grier, East High and Denver itself," Pogson says.
A police report of the theft has been filed. Although Pogson isn't optimistic that the painting will be recovered, he's holding out hope that the perpetrator was just drunk and exercising poor judgment. "I'm hoping he sobers up and thinks 'That was dumb' and brings it back," he says.
"Of all the problems in the world, a missing painting from a doughnut shop is not a big deal," the doughnut entrepreneur admits.
See the a video of Pogson and Shannon pleading for the return of the exquisite portrait on the Voodoo Doughnut Facebook page.