It’s been a turbulent couple of years for Casa Bonita. After the Lakewood staple shut down in 2020, it has faced a global pandemic, bankruptcy and uncertainty over whether it would ever reopen. After a months-long campaign to save Casa Bonita and the restaurant’s eventual (and surreal) purchase by the South Park creators who’d once satirized it, it looks like Casa Bonita will live to see another day. And what better way to celebrate than with an art show dedicated to Casa Bonita, located just steps from the restaurant?
NEXT Gallery’s annual Casa Bonita Art Show, an event that every year celebrates the immersive entertainment restaurant through art, is returning for its fifth year. Starting this month, “Mi Casa es Su Casa” will showcase 60 art pieces submitted by artists all over the country. There’ll be paintings, sculptures, photography, felting, embroidery and more, all inspired by the essence and aesthetic of the beloved Lakewood institution.
That means we can expect to see a lot of gorillas, sopapillas, pirates and cliff divers depicted in the artwork, and a lot of Casa Bonita’s signature orange-pink hue. Prizes for the best artwork will be awarded at the show’s opening on Feb. 18 at 8 p.m.
NEXT Gallery, a Lakewood-based gallery owned and operated by 28 artists, has been hosting the Casa Bonita Art Show since 2018, after the gallery moved from LoHi to its current West Colfax location across the street from Casa Bonita.
“We hoped the show would be quirky enough to attract new artists, new visitors and let the neighborhood know that the gallery was approachable,” Betsy $B Rudolph, NEXT Gallery member and founder of the Casa Bonita Art Show, said in a statement. “Everyone loved it. We learned that Casa Bonita holds a special place in lots of hearts.”
Casa Bonita super-fan Andrew Novick also had a hand in organizing the show.
“Every year I am blown away by the variety of ideas in the entries,” Novick said in a statement. “Also, I’m always happy to hear how many artists say this is the first show they have ever entered!”
The show’s return comes after the news that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who’ve heavily referenced Casa Bonita in the show, had purchased the restaurant for $3.1 million. Last fall, Parker and Stone also announced that they’d hired James Beard award winner Dana Rodriguez as the restaurant’s new head chef, indicating future improvements to Casa Bonita’s menu when the restaurant reopens.
Casa Bonita is currently closed for renovations. You can check the restaurant’s website for updates on its plan for reopening.
The NEXT Gallery Casa Bonita Art Show runs from February 18 to March 6. The gallery is open Fridays from 6 -10 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5 p.m.