(Courtesy of http:cardcow.com)


Title of Installation:

KiMo Theatre

Materials Used:

Polychrome terra cotta and terra cotta tiles. According to Joe Taylor of the Tile Heritage Foundation, the original KiMo tiles were made by the Claycraft Potteries of Los Angeles, California. "The body of work achieved at Claycraft can be largely credited to the skill and attention of the two Robertsons, Fred and George, whose family had been successfully involved in ceramics for many generations. In 1934 the two departed to form Robertson Pottery. The last mention of Claycraft Potteries is found in city directories of 1939. The company produced in excess of 500 different design tiles and published six catalogs of its products during the 1920s." (http://tileheritage.org/THF-TileoftheMonth-Nov-03.html) Mr. Taylor also mentioned that some of the larger tiles may have been reproduced and added at a later date.

Additional Materials Information:

General Description:

"The KiMo Theatre, a Pueblo Deco picture palace, opened on September 19, 1927. Pueblo Deco was a flamboyant, short-lived architectural style that fused the spirit of the Native American cultures of the Southwest with the exuberance of Art Deco. ...The genius behind the KiMo was Oreste Bachechi, ...[who, in] 1925, decided to...[build] his own theater, one that would stand out among the Greek temples and Chinese pavilions of contemporary movie mania. Bachechi envisioned a unique, Southwestern style theater, and hired Carl Boller of the Boller Brothers to design it. 

... Carl Boller traveled throughout New Mexico, visiting the pueblos of Acoma and Isleta, and the Navajo Nation. After months of research, Carl Boller submitted a watercolor rendering that pleased Oreste Bachechi.

The interior was to include plaster ceiling beams textured to look like logs and painted with dance and hunt scenes, air vents disguised as Navajo rugs, chandeliers shaped like war drums and Native American funeral canoes, wrought iron birds descending the stairs and rows of garlanded buffalo skulls with eerie, glowing amber eyes.

None of the designs were chosen at random. Each of the myriad images of rain clouds, birds and swastikas had historical significance. The Navajo swastika is a symbol for life, freedom and happiness.

Like its abstract symbols, color, too, was part of the Indian vocabulary. Yellow represents the life-giving sun, white the approaching morning, red the setting sun of the West and black the darkening clouds from the North. The crowning touch was the nine large wall murals painted in oil by Carl Von Hassler." (http://www.cabq.gov/kimo/about-the-theater)

"It was built...in the extravagant Art Deco-Pueblo Revival Style architecture, which is a blend of adobe building styles (rounded corners and edges), decorative motifs from indigenous cultures, and the soaring lines and linear repetition found in American Art Deco architecture. ...The theater is a three-story stucco building with the stepped massing characteristic of native pueblo architecture, as well as the recessed spandrels and strong vertical thrust of Art Deco skyscrapers. Both the exterior and interior of the building incorporate a variety of indigenous motifs, like the row of terra cotta shields above the third-floor windows." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KiMo_Theater)

"The overall massing of the building suggests an early New Mexican church (although the structure is in fact brick, supplemented with concrete and steel). The richly painted and sculptured ornament both inside and outside the theater combines Pueblo and Art Deco motifs. ...The front facade is divided into three parts, with the theater and its marquee occupying the center and shops on either side. [Boller]...employed a typical Art Deco pattern of fenestration: three sets of three windows interrupted by pierlike elements. The piers terminate in a band of brightly colored terra-cotta shields. The interior...continues the use of terra-cotta and includes stylized buffalo skulls atop the piers." (David Gebhard, The National Trust Guide to Art Deco in America, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, 1996, p. 170)

Year Created:


Year Installed, if different:

Does Installation Still Exist?

Yes. The theater was restored after the City of Albuquerque purchased it in 1977 to save the theater from being demolished.

If Not, What Happened?

Location of Installation:

423 Central Avenue, NW

Albuquerque, NM

GPS Coordinates:

Directions to Installation:

Additional Information, Websites, Citations:

Other photos of the KiMo Theatre can be accessed at: http://decoarchitecture.tumblr.com/post/1618623221/kimo-theater-albuquerque-new-mexico-photo-by, and http://decoarchitecture.tumblr.com/post/15155287088/detail-kimo-theatre-albuquerque-new-mexico-by, and http://decoarchitecture.tumblr.com/post/15192742553/kimo-theatre-albuquerque-new-mexico-by, and at http://www.flickr.com/photos/34152329@N06/3472105753/in/photostream/.

There are also two virtual tours that show the ornamentation of the KiMo Theatre:



Unless otherwise noted, color photos courtesy of Michael Padwee.

Submitted by and Year:

Submitted by Michael Padwee (tileback101'at'collector.org), February 2012.

Part of the tile-covered ticket booth