Rio Theatre

“ET, phone home”

I first heard these famous lines, in 1982, in a seat of the Rio Theatre in the Eastside of Santa Cruz.

The 938 seat Rio was opened on June 12, 1949, with the double feature of “Song of India” and “Law of the Barbary Coast”. Clearly not masterpieces of world cinema.

The screen was built as a cycloramic or curved screen which created a 3-D like effect for the movie goer.

While the Rio was not built during the Golden Age of Art Deco movie palaces (1920s-30s), the neon sign that illuminates the T junction of Soquel Avenue and Seabright is a classic.

While the Rio Theatre is not the mecca for cinema that it once was, today the Rio is alive as a music and performance space.

In recent times, like many historic, single screen cinemas, the Rio no longer serves as a mere movie theater. It now functions as a live music venue. Graham Nash and Judy Collins are slated to play at the Rio in the near future.

The stylized sign became my anchor for the sketch. I got to the theatre by 7 AM but the downside was the marine layer drizzle that covered my windshield. This was going to make field sketching a challenge. I found a parking spot on Seabright, facing the theatre and I used my car as a sketching blind.

I just had periodically use my windshield wipers to unblur my subject.

I returned later and sketched the ticket booth of the Rio.

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