Take a walk through Rene Cardona’s mind at the Fox Theatre

Lann Nguyen

Rene Cardona has grown and transformed as a painter and is still doing what he loves since The Hornet last interviewed him in 2015.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
The Fox Theatre has hosted the downtown artwalk for four years. Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

Revisiting the article on Cardona, he attended Fullerton College in 1991 and had a pleasant experience with instructors. “They allowed me to be who I was rather than putting me in the conformity of the classroom,” said Cardona.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
Cardona has been enlightened through his art and that is exactly what he has always hoped would come out of being an artist, he now has a deeper understanding of spirituality and a higher power. Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

He sees his style changing from his early twenties when he painted very tightly to more recently in his forties when he paints more loosely.

“But if I want to paint tighter all I have to do is put my glasses on,” said Cardona.

He uses all oils to paint and it takes him approximately three to four days to finish a painting.

He found success early on in his career by gaining representation and displaying his artwork in galleries.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
Guests wander through the gallery of Cardona’s artwalk and intermingle with smiles on their face. Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

Lately, Cardona has taken a hit in the industry due to the rise of social media and despite being “a struggling, starving artist but still being somewhat successful,” he encourages young artists to stay in school so they will have all the opportunity in the world to take on teaching positions and so forth in the future.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
The Fox Theatre features its original interior, including the seats and the murals that were on the wall will be redone to match the orignal renaissance era artwork. Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

“Being an artist has been a gift experiencing the whole totality for the ultimate hardship and ultimately the holy God, so while my brother had kids I had the chance to discover spirituality through art,” said Cardona.

Social media made it hard to be an artist according to Cardona, although there are upsides to the technological advancements, like keeping in touch with friends. The downside is the difficulty of selling paintings.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
This is the fourth artwalk taken place in downtown Fullerton at the historic Fox Theatre. Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

After discontinuing business with his agent, he came to the realization that he needed a nine-to-five job which he found in a day job working at the Environmental Protection Agency as a private contractor.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
Fox Theatre will be mostly used for concerts once it reopens after renovations are completed in 2025. Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

“Art helps through the most difficult of times and is proven to help those in high-stress situations by channeling negative energy into positive creativity,” said Cardona.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
The Fox Theatre is a beloved piece of downtown Fullerton and was made officially a historical landmark in 2006. Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

He does not mix any of his paints on a palette, instead he mixes them directly onto the canvas and he enjoys painting armor and horses.

He draws inspiration from Arthurian folklore, old English and myths of dramatic knights.

His brother was a star athlete in college and went on to become a coach and have children which is in stark opposition to Rene Cardona the artist.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
The entrance to the Fox Theatre lies between Dripp coffeehouse and Angelo’s and Vinci’s Ristorante on Harbor Blvd. Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

“I realized I didn’t have what my brother has, and all I have are the clothes on my back, but through art I have learned a lot about mortality and coming to accept that things are gonna die,” said Cardona.

The Fox Theatre was originally built in 1925 as a part of a chain but was permanently closed and was abandoned in 1987.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
This conglamerate are members of different bands but occasionally get together to have fun and play some good music. (left to right) Lou Dintter, Howard Skinner, John E. Base Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

Located in downtown Fullerton, the historic building with an Italian Renaissance architectural style has been home to several events over the years like this one.

It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2006 and has since been due for restoration.

“We came [to the Fox Theatre] in the fifties while we were in junior high, that’s the same balcony and those stairs- people used to sneak up there,” said Paul Smith and Eloise Grime while reflecting on their visits to the theatre before it was shut down.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
Three generations of Fullerton residents (front to back) Paul Smith, Kristyn Grime, Kim and Eloise Grime enjoy sharing family memories of when the theatre was up and running in the fifties. Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

“Looking at the big picture, we want to have this theatre restored by 2025,” said Leland Wlison, president of the Fullerton Historic Theater Foundation.

It may speed up depending on the endowments from major players in the process and the $2.5 million coming from the state should help complete the murals that are being redone.

Meet the Artist: Rene Cardona
David Waterman and Star Leiva stop to admire Cardona’s artwork at the historic Fox Theatre Friday night. Photo credit: Lann Nguyen

The only major change to the interior design will be that the balcony will not be accessible or in use to the public.

The theatre holds approximately 700 bodies and will have the original decoration concepts.