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At Velvet Museum, Get in Touch with Kitsch
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At Velvet Museum, Get in Touch with Kitsch

Arts & Life

At Velvet Museum, Get in Touch with Kitsch

At Velvet Museum, Get in Touch with Kitsch
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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/90541936/90713753" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin in the Velveteria i

Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin own the Velveteria and are the authors of the coffee-table book "Black Velvet Masterpieces: Highlights from the Collection of the Velveteria Museum." Alan Borrud/Chronicle Books hide caption

toggle caption Alan Borrud/Chronicle Books
Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin in the Velveteria

Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin own the Velveteria and are the authors of the coffee-table book "Black Velvet Masterpieces: Highlights from the Collection of the Velveteria Museum."

Alan Borrud/Chronicle Books
Cover of Black Velvet Masterpieces i

Anderson and Baldwin's new coffee-table book celebrates the best and worst of the kitschy art form. Courtesy of Chronicle Books hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Chronicle Books
Cover of Black Velvet Masterpieces

Anderson and Baldwin's new coffee-table book celebrates the best and worst of the kitschy art form.

Courtesy of Chronicle Books
Dogs playing poker i

The inevitable dogs playing poker also hangs in the Velveteria. Courtesy of the Velveteria hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the Velveteria
Dogs playing poker

The inevitable dogs playing poker also hangs in the Velveteria.

Courtesy of the Velveteria

Velvet paintings sold cheap from vans at roadside stands across the country are now achieving loftier status. There's a new coffee-table book and a museum — the Velveteria — in Portland, Ore., featuring the fuzzy velvet art.

Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin serve as curators for the 300 velvet museum pieces, which include paintings of Rambo, Bruce Lee and the rock band KISS as well as luminescent unicorns and fluorescent matadors. Baldwin says contrary to what people might think, in the world of velvet, Elvis is not king.

In fact, visitors who opt to pass through the pink velvet curtains at the museum's entrance will find that Jesus is the figure most often depicted on velvet.

"We have a whole shrine over here with Jesus [and] Mary. We have black Jesus," Baldwin says.

The shrine is a wall filled with about 50 classic religious images, a beatific Liberace and other offbeat icons.

"I saw Sammy Davis Jr. in this painting, hence we have Sammy Davis Jesus," Baldwin explains.

In second place among velvet painters are naked ladies copied from Playboy centerfolds, the curators say. For example, there's a naked woman standing by a glass table with her hand in a goldfish bowl.

Other familiar faces on display include Jack Kevorkian, E.T., Mr. T and multiple Michael Jacksons. And if people ask nicely, they can touch the portraits, Anderson says.

"You know there's the velvet and then there's the velveteen," she explains. "And the velvet's plushier."

Books Featured In This Story

Black Velvet Masterpieces

Highlights from the Collection of the Velveteria Museum

by Carl Baldwin and Caren Anderson

Hardcover, 192 pages |

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Title
Black Velvet Masterpieces
Subtitle
Highlights from the Collection of the Velveteria Museum
Author
Carl Baldwin and Caren Anderson

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