Artwork comes to Shakedown Bar |

Artwork comes to Shakedown Bar

Daily staff report
Vail, CO, Colorado

HL Shakedown Bar graffiti JM 5-12-12

In the past couple of decades the world at large – especially that segment with an eye for aesthetics – has come to regard graffiti as art rather than vandalism.

But no onlooker, regardless of hailing from the inner city or the mountains, will mistake the new murals enveloping the stairwell at the new Shakedown Bar (formerly The Club) in Vail Village as anything other than pure craftsmanship.

The only graffiti to be found in the valley, the three paintings at Shakedown depict the power of certain musical icons and the beauty of the mountains with a distinctively Vail flair.

“The reason I introduced the idea of graffiti was to bring in a new art style to Colorado and Vail. Of course, showing that we are not defacing property, I wanted to run with the idea of back alley and street art,” said Margarette Johannes of Avant Palette Custom Wall Finishes, Murals and Painting, who spearheaded the project.

“We really just wanted to capture the spirit of Vail along with some musical history,” said Johannes, who is also responsible for the new copper and black ceiling in Tavern on the Gore (formerly Sapphire restaurant). “It was complete stream of consciousness. A lot of it is totally ad-libbed.”

This means that when Shakedown owners George Hilliard and Scott Rednor told Johannes and her artist, New Jersey graffiti guru Mike Dankowski, that they wanted something welcoming with classic Vail scenery and maybe Jerry Garcia, the paint cans and the vision set off on autopilot.

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The result was a rendition of Garcia morphing into a raccoon, a naked Bohemian girl wearing purple Doc Martens strumming a guitar that covers all of her female parts, a beaver on a raft riding a tsunami down Gore Creek with a pirate flag, and even a pine tree with a bra dangling from one of its branches.

“It was all spontaneous. I started painting on the wall and whatever George and Margarette wanted, I incorporated the ideas,” said Dankowski, whose graffiti work can most famously be found in Tony Hawk skate videos.

“It was an epic feeling to be out in Vail, Colorado and work on that piece. You don’t expect art like that in that environment. It’s kind of a culture shock.”

As far as Hilliard and Rednor are concerned, they feel the murals fit their environment just fine.

“I think she did a fantastic job. She really dug into what we saw with the music theme,” Rednor said of Johannes. “Especially with the new atmosphere of the place and the full vision of the transition into a small music venue in the village, it’s a blast. It will be cool for people to come into the place, stand back and check out the artwork.”

Since 1990, Margarette Johannes of Avant Palette has been creating extraordinary faux finishes, specialized textures, and murals for professional interior designers and discriminating home and business owners. Learn more at

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