Along the Velvet Trail.

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.

Carl was my Velvet connoisseur for the day.

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.

                                      Lots of love and effort.

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.

                The good ole days.

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.

 

 

The Velveteria 

711 New High St, Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Open:

Thursday – Sunday

11:00 am – 6:00 pm

Admission: $10

 

Hoppin’ around downtown LA

They ate everything.

They ate everything.

Rabbits are often referred to as pests, generally to our seasonal produce. Australian artist, Amanda Parer created a public installation that examines the vermin that are responsible for eradicating wildlife, while escaping annihilation by humans. Intrude was created from sewn white nylon, inflated and illuminated from the inside. Introduced to Australia by European settlers in 1788, rabbits are responsible for creating an imbalance to the country’s endemic species. Yet, our feelings for these fluffy, adorable creatures are fairly complex. Her work examines the cocktail of emotions we have for these furry nuisances.

They represent the fairytale animals from our childhood – a furry innocence, frolicking through idyllic fields. Intrude deliberately evokes this cutesy image, and a strong visual humour, to lure you into the artwork only to reveal the more serious environmental messages in the work. They are huge, the size referencing “the elephant in the room”, the problem, like our environmental impact, big but easily ignored.

Amanda Parer

 

For a very limited run, Los Angeles will be welcoming in the nylon scourge. You can view them downtown starting June 5th, through June 11th at these locations: Bank of America Plaza, Wells Fargo Center and FIGat7th. They will be available for photo shoots from noon to 9 p.m. each day.

After their take over of the West, they will complete their North American tour to New York, Denver, and Houston. For more information about Intrude, you can keep going down the rabbit hole here.

More about the artist: http://amandaparer.com.au/

 

Before Abbot Kinney was littered with decadent shops and gourmet cafes, it once belonged to the bohemians, green space, and the eccentrics. The boulevard’s galleries showcased the neighborhood talent, and praised itself for being an artist’s refuge from materialistic L.A.

Lucky for us, the hyper-gentrification didn’t sell all the soul from Abbot-Kinney. In some unexpected nooks and crannies, there is some art lurking in the open. I almost missed The Chaplin Zoetrope, if my lovely friend had not pointed out to me as I was walking into traffic.

 

While I was searching for the name of the person responsible for saving my inattentive heinie, my eyes landed on the stack of informative cards perched under the exhibit. The card’s map specified all the public art in the area, along with a web address of other projects that all art-appreciating Angelenos should be aware of.

 

A map to several pots of gold

 

On the reverse, the numbers explain each installation, with their whereabouts included. Thanks to Robin Murez, who commenced the Venice public art project in 2005,  she hoped to inspire a sense of community amongst all the various citizens dwelling in the Venice area. Along with unifying the residents, Robin wanted bring about a sense of wonderment and delight with each piece.

A list...of visual treasures.

 

They are always open to suggestions, and needing assistance with: locating sites, creating, inviting, organizing, installing, landscaping, CAD drawings, permits, funding, photographing, and media.

While I’m crafting my thank you card, I recommend investigating these visual treasure troves before they’re bulldozed for a new Prada store.

Website: www.venicepublicart.com

Author.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.22.10 PMIn the middle of my daily drudgery at the office, a text popped in with what I hoped to be my future. Travel Channel created a reality show that needed contestants, and was holding auditions TODAY. The hope was to find the luckiest of all ducks: he/she would be the host of their own travel web series. Upon reading (skimming) the guidelines, I hustled my big blue eyes over to my boss, hoping that that extra swish of mascara would allow my early retreat from work. Without mentioning much, he signed off on my early departure, gave me a spank, and wished me the best of luck.

Rushing off towards the Tastemade Studios, with my newly acquired bruise, I started gathering bits and pieces of odd travel tales. Not really knowing the rules, because I, uh, read it so closely, I closed my eyes to see what I could conjure up.

Hmmm….monkeys? Sure. Anxiety problems? YES. Mild mention of extreme poverty of India, which shows my adventurous side? Well, yeah.

While my half-assed meditation was in motion, I felt a nudge and an almost paper cut on my arm. “Hey, you might want this.” I bypassed lunch, so I was sort of anticipating a pack of fruit snacks. Instead, he handed me a paper with all the rules and guidelines that we should probably know.

After a quick read over, my meditations were fairly useless. “2 minutes to describe where you’re from, why and what made you love travel, and how you like to travel”. Whaaa? Ok. While scrambling my shit together to form cohesive sentences, a camera with a lovely female voice asked me what part of the process I was in. Clearly, I do not audition often (read: at all) so I was fairly dumbfounded when I faced with this question, and in front of a looming camera.

Welp.

Here we go.

Everyone loves illicit drugs and personality disorders, so of course I am going to take that road.

“Well, I made sure to take my Xann-I mean Xanax (leave street slang at home) today, so I am feeling great. (illicit drug reference – good!) I’m not gonna hide like I want to, because I am so anxious right now” (mention of panic disorder – I’m totally in.)

Lucky for me, I did indeed make the highlights of the L.A. auditions – which the above picture is from. Unpleasantly, I did not make the final 15. A blessing in disguise really, because yours truly does not advertise herself well – unless I can wear a sandwich board.

Also…I was sort of not thrilled with the idea of being known as “the lady with monkey problems”.

Being vegetarian for over 20 years, most people assume that I would be against taxidermy. Unbeknownst to my nearest, I have a slight affliction towards post-mortem animal sculptures. Mostly the blame lies towards my upbringing: I was raised by outdoorsmen, hunting and fishing types that would up-cycle their kills. My uncle had his basement turned into a natural history museum exhibit. From woodland creature pelts, to moose legged lamps, one could really learn a lot about the animals of the upper midwest.

He would've really brightened up my living room.

There’s always room more lil helpers like him.

While I was dog sitting this weekend in the San Fernando Valley, I was blinded by the bounty of this oddities shop on Magnolia Blvd. Careening my sleigh to the first available spot, I hurried myself in. I was greeted immediately by one of the owners, Erick, who was busily cleaning and arranging new product. Right away, he offered his assistance, since I was eyeing up his taxidermy rodent selection very hungrily. He also mentioned that all the animals that were available for purchase all died from natural causes. I appreciated that, since I felt a little crappy about my lusting for a top-hatted mouse, that was next to skulls of various creatures, bottled insects, a bat, and all sorts of curiosities. They also display a sign stating that all wildlife was ethically sourced, so you needn’t feel guilt when your coin purse starts doing all the talking.

Eye see you.

Eye see you.

Erick also dropped an interesting tidbit: they offer a taxidermy class, if any are interested in making their own animal militia. They also can help you put your dusty Ouija boards to use, as they offer occasional seances.

She was a huge fan of beef jerky.

What do you say about a leathery mermaid?

In the very back of this multi-roomed emporium, I met a lovely mermaid with a mildly shrunken head. I’m thinking she might make an excellent centerpiece during the holidays. Besides the lovely maiden of the sea, stacks of lonely Ouija boards, bearded lady t-shirts, movie posters, vintage comics and old cameras, and hell, even wax busts of no-name dames.

If you ever want to give me a gift, this is it.

If you ever want to give me a gift, this is it.

If you ever find yourself roaming Burbank in need of a turtle skeleton, or squirrel eyes, maybe even some Star Wars comics, please do yourself the biggest favor and visit the wonderfully macabre, Bearded Lady. Your shelves and dreams will never be empty again.

 

Bearded Lady Vintage and Oddities

3005 W Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, California

(323) 696.5219

Hours: Tues – Sat: 10am – 7pm/Sun – Mon: 12pm – 7pm

Online Store: https://squareup.com/market/beardedladyvintage