Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I got some shocking news this morning. According to a new article in the Oregonian, Portland's museum of black velvet art, Velveteria will be shutting its doors on January 24th. The owners, Caren and Carl will be moving to Southern California. The couple cite Portland's economy as a factor in their decision, along with the rapidly falling real estate prices in SoCal.
I got to visit Velveteria for the first time a couple of years ago, and it was magical. Velveteria had just moved from its old space to a deeeee-luxe new space on East Burnside. It's no secret that I'm a fan of the black velvet. I've got a small, but intensely cultivated collection, even though I gave my Kenny Rogers (as the Gambler, natch) painting away last year. The crown jewel of my collection is a painting of the Pink Panther on the toilet, holding up his tail. He's shuffling his feet (there's a motion blur) and smoking a cigarette in a long holder. There are also, for some reason, fried eggs on the floor.
That's why I'm going to miss Velveteria. The place is chock full of paintings with weird, incongruous details like these. Ethnicities blur, patriotism and the erotic commingle, and of course, Elvis is everywhere.
Carl and Caren literally wrote the book on black velvet. Their book, Black Velvet Masterpieces was published by Chronicle in 2008. It's filled with their genuine love of the entire range of black velvet paintings...from common portraits of Fat Elvis to exquisite 1940's erotic Polynesian paintings. Carl and Caren were incredibly nice. They're a fixture of the Portland cultural scene, and they'll be sorely missed.
The closing of the Velveteria isn't the first cultural tragedy of its kind to hit Portland. The town is still reeling from the closing of Stephanie G. Pierce's 24 Hour Church of Elvis (full disclosure--I'm a card-carrying Saint in the Church of Elvis). Stephanie wasn't able to keep the Church of Elvis going, so Portlanders now have to go to Voodoo Doughnut to get married.
Stand up for yourself, PDX! Don't let every treasured cultural institution slip through your fingers until all you have left is a Niketown store and Ahmad Rashad's birthplace.
LINK to Oregonian article
LINK to Velveteria book