The Rialto Theater has seen a lot in its almost 100 years of existence. Lots of movies. Lots of people going on. Men, likely in suits and ties, and women in dresses. Why? Because that is the way people presented themselves in those days. Look at old pictures of people downtown. Men in suits and hats, and women in dresses, many times also wearing hats. You dressed up to go to town.
Through the years, the Rialto’s glory has faded. It has been more years than anyone can remember since movies were shown there on a regular basis.
Recently, BIDCorp, Brownfield Industrial Development Corporation, has purchased the building and begun a major remodeling project. On the outside, we have seen some repair work done to the marquee, with more to come. We have seen a fresh coat of paint over the whole facade, and most recently we have seen a bright new mural go up.
The mural was painted by artist Calina Mishay Johnson. The artwork, done in the style of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, represents a West Texas sunset over the fields of green. A beautiful addition to downtown.
Calina Mishay Johnson, “Cal,” began painting as a child. She grew up in a small West Texas town that had a population of 600 people. After years of emotional, life-dealt hardships, Cal’s style was born through her expressive painting strokes. Her art career began in 2012, focusing on one-of-a-kind commissions for her clientele. In 2016, Cal expanded her work, tackling urban street art murals throughout Texas and creating Street Art By Cal. Inspired by the budding street art movement, she introduced the South to her signature style and use of vibrant color.
Her murals began popping up all over Texas, organically serving as backdrops for photographs by tourists, locals and even celebrities (one of Cal’s murals was commissioned as the backdrop on Aaron Watson’s album titled, Vaquero). As Cal’s street art exploded, and popularity grew amongst these small towns that had been revitalized, so did the desire to own some of her unique fine art. Her canvas work has been exhibited in galleries in Dallas-Ft. Worth, with her expressionist work on display at the Milan Gallery. In February 2018, Cal made her premiere in San Angelo as the solo featured abstract artist at the gallery Raw 1899. Several other talks are underway for galleries throughout the South, and she continues to create commission work for people all over the country.
Brownfield was fortunate to be able to have Cal come to Brownfield to paint this vivid mural for our town.
The work at the Rialto will continue, with the neon and new lights being the next thing that we will see. Workers were there on Friday, September 24 to start that work. There will be spotlights on top of the marquee shining on the mural, and canned lights coming from an old style tin ceiling under the marquee on the sidewalk.
Roofers will also be starting repairs to the roof in the coming days.
Plans are to perhaps make the Rialto into a large venue event center, with the possibility of proms and bigger conferences and banquets. Work on the inside will begin at a later date.
The fresh look of the Rialto brings a new feature to an already busy downtown area.