Holiday Window Dressing: Artistry at the Hotel Colorado
For 28 years—and still going strong at the age of 74—Angela Drake of Grand Junction, Colorado has been making her mark on the windows of the Hotel Colorado, creating charming holiday scenes that add vintage cheer to the historic lodging property.
A trained artist, Angela discovered long ago that her favorite blank canvas was a pane of glass, though she also paints on old wood, leather and tools. After growing up and studying art in college in Baltimore, Maryland, she relocated to southern California where she lived for 10 years and became a highly a sought-after window painter. Eventually, Angie and her late husband Ed landed in Grand Junction, where she’s been for the past 30 years. “Once I saw the mountains, I was all in for it,” she said.
Her connection to the Hotel Colorado began when she and Ed visited Glenwood Springs on a vacation and stayed at the hotel. She happened to show photos of her art to then-manager Mr. Gutman. “He loved my work and got me started.” That was in 1991.
“I can’t say enough good things about the Hotel Colorado and its staff.” Angie recounted a memory from 1995, the year her husband became sick with terminal cancer and she had to phone the hotel to tell them she wouldn’t be able to paint their windows. “They could hear my husband in the background protesting that I should go and paint, but I just couldn’t leave him because he was very sick. The hotel manager insisted that I bring him along and that they would help me take care of him. Well, if you can believe it, they did just that! They got him a wheelchair, checked in on him and wheeled him around the hotel while I worked. My husband and I always loved the place, but that experience made me feel very close to the Hotel Colorado and its staff.”
It takes her about a week to finish painting all the windows. “I am extremely fast, but the older I get, the slower I become,” Angie said. She also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis in her legs. “At one time I used ladders and scaffolding, but those days are over. Now I use a sturdy stepstool to paint and if I can’t reach it, it doesn’t get done.”
Angie’s window art depicts nostalgic holiday scenes which can be seen throughout the first floor of the Hotel Colorado. Look for a horse pulling a sleigh across a snow-covered field, a cabin in the woods surrounded by tall pines and a couple skating on a frozen lake. Interior doors depict dancers, holiday revelers, cardinals perched on branches, a lake scene with a horse-drawn carriage and many more.
As for Angie, she particularly likes painting the four tall angels on the doors of the east and west entrances. “Since I began working for the Hotel Colorado, they have always asked me to paint angels. I feel like it really captures the meaning of Christmas.”
Like most artists, Angie is delighted when others appreciate her work. “People have been so kind to me. They’ve told me they like watching me paint. Folks have even asked me to join them for dinner or drinks,” she recounted, laughing. “The children especially just love it; and it brings joy to my heart to hear them say ‘Look Mommy, look at this.’”
There’s no slowing Angie down. December is her busiest month. At the time of this interview she was between jobs and concerned about the weather forecast delaying her work painting the windows of a restaurant. Why doesn’t she take a break? “It fills my heart with joy,” she said. A sentiment shared by many visitors and locals, past and present, who have admired her hand-painted holiday décor at the Hotel Colorado.
Enjoy the Hotel Colorado this holiday season. Make lodging reservations today at www.hotelcolorado.com.
Photo Credit: Chelsea Self