And now for something completely different, an interlude with Gary Lee Parks.
Author, Historian, Artist, and Burbank Theater Archaeologist! In his own words…
Less than two weeks ago, after over three decades of driving by the Burbank Theatre countless times, and photographing the exterior on several occasions, I actually set foot inside, in order to engage in some wall paint archaeology. I knew, from having studied early photographs, that there were interesting decorative colors on the walls of the outer and inner lobbies, and as I applied paint remover to carefully chosen, rectangularly delineated patches of wall, they did not disappoint, for, once I removed sections of “death-pallor white” which was applied to the entire interior by a past owner, a whole history of decorative color revealed itself layer-by layer.
There were pale pinks, vivid reds, and areas of gold—likely from the Burbank’s many years as a porn theatre, and underneath those, pale yellow ochres and mint green, from its time as both an art and foreign film venue, and finally, from its early years as a regular Hollywood-product, neighborhood movie house—the original color scheme, which was dignified and varied.
Rich golden browns, deep ochre, and a soft olive tint once created variety on the curving walls and cylindrical pillars of the lobby areas.
But the finest discovery of all remained to be uncovered on the curved wall of the inner lobby, which backs up against the rear of the auditorium.
There, a deep green once covered the entire surface, upon which a tilted grid of hand-painted squares, formed by single-brush-stroke ribbons of deep gold and pale green, created a unique, textured contrast to the other surfaces, while playing effectively off the glazed polychrome terra cotta of the drinking fountain niche, directly opposite.
There was so much to discover, that this work took two working days to accomplish, and resulted in “opening up” five squares of wall surface. In three of the squares, I left strips of each successive layer of color, labeling each, and photographed everything that had emerged. The end result? History revealed…and the satisfaction of successful discovery.
Gary Lee Parks
Author, THEATRES OF SAN JOSE
Thank you Gary! It was great of you to provide this fantastic view into history!
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