LA Fridays with Bob and Tom: Velveteria, Museum of Velvet Paintings
LA Fridays with Bob and Tom
Week 13: Velveteria, Museum of Velvet Paintings
Today we visit a very unique museum located in Chinatown, Velveteria, Museum of Velvet Paintings located at 711 New High Street. Carl Baldwin, one of the founders, met us at the entrance, and immediately began extolling the virtues of velvet painting to entice us to pay the $10 entrance fee and view his extensive collection behind the pink curtain. Carl is a non-stop talker and with his gravel voice, punctuated by lots of laughing, hippie style clothing, and signature hat, he educated us on the origins of velvet paintings. Although often thought of as kitsch, a 20th century pop-art phenomenon with its often cartoonish images, velvet paintings date before Marco Polo introduced them to Western Europe. Carl explained how intricate some of the artwork can be, and related stories about the many fascinating artists whose works were on display. During the psychedelic, hippie, Vietnam era, movie and rock stars were immortalized on velvet.
This Museum has one main room with a very eclectic collection of paintings consisting of politicians, singers, jazz musicians, women of all colors, to name a few. There is another section with many of the famous rock stars from the 60’s to the present, Star Trek paintings, and Egyptian pharaohs and women. A favorite of Bob, another room houses the blacklight paintings. A blacklight painting utilizes paints which fluoresce under a black light. The black velvet enhances the image. The hallway in the back is dedicated to Elvis. Utilizing all available space, even the restroom houses a collection.
From landscapes to clowns to famous movie stars to Presidents and animals the museum has it all and Carl with his walking encyclopedic mind has numerous stories to share, along with reviews of the museum, even one from the Wall Street Journal.
ROBERT BLAUNSTEIN, PhD BIO
Robert (Bob) is a PhD physicist whose career has spanned academia, government and private industry. As a faculty member of the Department of Physics at the University of Tennessee, a Branch Chief at the United States Department of Energy and Vice President of an American International Group Company, his scientific endeavors include radiation physics, environmental research, environmental insurance and nanotechnology.
Originally from the East Coast, Bob was seduced by his sons and their families (and the California weather) to leave Washington, DC after retiring in 2010. While recovering from culture shock, Bob found many outlets to reconcile his eclectic interests. As a member of Senior Scholars for over six years he continues to take courses in a myriad of subjects ranging from film to art history to brain science and finds great intellectual and social rewards in Senior Scholars and the Plato Society.
As a latent artist, he sketches scenes about town once a week with an artist friend from his college days and is attempting to learn to play the electric guitar.
On moving to Los Angeles, he found Tom Jacobson, another recent transplant. They became great friends and decided to explore their new town together leading to over 113 sites in our city. Dubbed “LA Fridays with Bob and Tom” they are happy to share their experiences with others.
Bob lives in Brentwood with Phyllis, his wife of 56 years, an education policy executive. They have two sons and four grandchildren, one of whom plays a guitar a lot better than Bob.
THOMAS JACOBSON BIO
Thomas (Tom) is an attorney who practiced trial and constitutional law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born in 1938 in Bamberg Germany, he was one of the youngest passengers on the ill-fated voyage of the Damned, the SS St. Louis, turned away from Cuba in 1939.
Tom represented local civil rights activists and Dick Gregory and twice argued cases successfully in the United States Supreme Court. In 1970 he was the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General.
Retiring in 2008, he and wife, Peggy, moved to California to join their two sons and four grandchildren, and enjoy the warm weather.
Tom has kept busy as a member of Senior Scholars and Plato for the last six years keeping his brain stimulated and active. Yoga and swimming have kept his body in shape.