All Photos by Jack Burke
Los Angeles is home to a variety of one-of-a-kind museums and one of those is Velveteria, a kitschy, thrilling spot to take in all things velvet art. Previously located in Portland, Velveteria opened in Chinatown in 2013, the manifestation of a velvet art obsession and collection by Los Angeleno Carl Baldwin and his partner, Caren Anderson.
Velvet paintings may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this all too easily disregarded art form includes some pretty powerful, richly dimensional stuff. The best pieces pull you into a plushy but realistic world. And it’s fun. How can anything painted on velvet not be fun?
Yes, there are Velvet Elvises, Hugh Hefner in his red robe, the Three Stooges, and even LA’s iconic weatherman Dallas Raines. But there’s so much more. Some glow in the dark. Some are the stuff of small children’s nightmares. Some depict wildlife. Some are three dimensional in aspect. And some are significant artistically, such as velvet visions created by the “father of modern velvet painting,” Tahiti-based Edgar Leeteg. You’ll find found-art assemblages, the visage of Sgt. Joe Friday, and a Zen-poodle garden shrine to a very Blue Elvis.
Chinatown is the perfect spot for this marvelous, strange, and captivating store-front museum – grab some dim sum before or after, or check out the vibrant gallery scene in Chung King Road. Just beware the demon monkey in Velveteria’s restroom.
- Genie Davis