When someone murmurs on about velvet paintings, where does your mind drift to?
Psychedelia with fluorescent mushrooms, bug-eyed elves, and vivid cheshire cats that beg to be viewed with a black light from Spencer’s?
Or, do you imagine demure women that belong on a Pacific isle?
Either way, Carl Baldwin and Caren Anderson want you to see velvet paintings as more than just a pop culture throwaway. Frustrated with the scorn, disdain, and loathing that has surrounded the art form, they sought to change the minds of the masses: Velvet paintings are often relegated to as the 50 Shades of Gray of the art world. Knowing this, Carl and Caren knew they needed to educate the public about this expressive art form.
They did what any art savvy folk would do: together, they opened the Velveteria museum in Portland, Oregon in 2005. After spending almost 10 weird years in the Pacific Northwest, they packed up, and relocated to Chinatown, Los Angeles in 2013.
Here, is where over 3,000 paintings from almost every continent richly adorn each wall. From Polynesian princesses, to David Bowie, no one leaves without seeing something that sends their hearts a flutter. They even have a black light room with the art you haven’t seen since high school/college – but of a higher quality, and much more trippy, as the kids used to say.
Sauntering slowly through each room, Carl become entrenched in each layered detail, and minute description – it was utterly blissful having my own personal docent. Especially one that has such delightful fervor and kind passion for what the uninformed describe as, “a tasteless art form”.
Throughout the attentively curated walls, there are hand written notes, that describe in deep detail about the artist, and their work.
There are also boards of information that entail the process, and the different qualities of velvet: not all velvet is on the same plane of existence.
To stay relevant in the world of celebrity, Carl mentioned they procure the latest celebrity/politician artwork from an artist in Mexico. Some of these paintings are just a tad surreal. The details on each work can at times be beyond belief. How one can paint so finely on fabric is hard to wrap one’s mind around.
Before I ruin your experience of the full splendor of a velvet playground, you should just probably go. An hour should be fine for most, but allot more for a true, in-depth pleasure cruise down the velvet trail.
One more thing: please keep me posted on the new artwork: I’m hoping there’s a fancy Taika Waititi by now.
711 New High St, Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Thursday – Sunday
11:00 am – 6:00 pm