Peeling back the layers of the Onion |

Peeling back the layers of the Onion

Dorothy Doyle was paid a minimal fee to come up with an illustration that could be used for advertising. The image is still being used today. (Contributed artwork)

ASPEN On the last day of the present Red Onion era, a woman in Carbondale is wondering what she should do with an illustration she created in 1984 that has graced advertisements for the bar over the past 23 years.

Dorothy Doyle, who now lives in the Crystal Meadows subsidized senior housing complex in Carbondale, was living in Aspen back in the early 1980s, working at such jobs as bank teller and store clerk and doing commercial graphic design projects on her own time. Among her clients, she said this week, was longtime local Pat Milligan, who strolls around Aspen’s pedestrian malls wearing a sandwich boards covered with ads.When another local, Ann Sanderson Owsley, took over the Red Onion in 1983, Doyle said she was paid a minimal fee to come up with an illustration that could be used for advertising.Doyle, 82, penned a charming line drawing of the restaurant’s facade that Owsley used for her short tenure as the bar’s manager, less than a year, and the image is still being used today.The 115-year-old bar, at 420 E. Cooper Ave. in Aspen, will be the site of a closing party today, starting at noon and lasting until 2 a.m. Sunday, featuring five local “garage bands” and an expected overflow throng of long-time patrons.

After that, the current management of David “Wabs” and Ellen “Iggy” Walbert will turn the premises over to its new majority owners, attorneys Ron Garfield and Andy Hech. Garfield has indicated to city officials that the plan is to renovate the space and reopen it as a restaurant and bar under the same name in time for the 2007-2008 ski season.”It’s a beautiful illustration,” said Owsley this week about the image, recalling that she did not specifically make any arrangements for continued use of the image, or for it to not be used, after she was done with the Onion. It has been used in the years since. Doyle moved away from the valley in 1988 to live elsewhere and returned about four years ago. She said she only retrieved the original from Wabs about a year ago.”She said it was for the express reason of using it for newspaper advertisements,” Doyle recalled of her agreement with Owsley. “But since then, it’s technically been used as a logo.”She said that she is not upset with any of those who have used the image for marketing, past or present, but is concerned about the future.”It’s not that it’s such a great piece of art, it’s just that it’s mine,” she continued, adding that she is worried that “somebody else could use it and put their name on it, and that’s what I don’t want to happen.”

She said she has contacted the offices of Garfield and Hecht and was told by a secretary that the new owners have no plans to use her illustration.She has thought of turning it over to the Aspen Historical Society, and perhaps work with the AHS to use it as an image on post cards from which she could derive a small income, she noted. But her efforts to contact AHS Director Georgia Hanson have not been successful so far.John Colson’s e-mail address is

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