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Los Angeles, California

Obscura Day 2016: Behold the Art of Black Velvet Paintings

An ancient technique that reached its peak in the mid-1970s is alive and well in Chinatown.

Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't deny the cultural impact of these masterpieces in black velvet.

As soon as you walk into Velveteria, you know you're in for a trippy experience. This offbeat attraction kept Portland weird until 2013, when its collection of over 3,000 paintings from every corner of the world relocated to LA.

Join Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein on a curator-led tour of Velveteria, arranged exclusively for the Los Angeles Obscura Society on Obscura Day, April 16. We'll hear the stories behind the paintings currently on display as part of their rotating exhibit—all of which have been collected over the course of the last 15 years.

An oddball museum if there ever was one, Velveteria keeps the black velvet craze of the mid-1970s alive and well with plenty of retro kitsch—but also a surprising number of new commissions and modern takes on this ancient practice.

In the 13th century, Marco Polo reported seeing painted velvet portraits of Hindu deities in India. Religious images continued to appear on velvet canvases throughout the Middle Ages. Having transcended time and modernity throughout 14th-century Kashmir, 16th-century China, and 19th-century England, black velvet paintings reached cult status in the 20th century, with Jesus appearing just as frequently as matadors, unicorns, hula girls, and, of course, Elvis.

We'll also have the chance to visit their other worldly black light room, since no velvet painting excursion would be complete without one.

Notes for this adventure:

- A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will help support the ongoing operations of Velveteria.

- No children under 12. All minors must be accompanied by an adult. Please keep in mind that not all content may be suitable for young eyes.

- Photography is only allowed in the front room, and not in the main gallery or blacklight room

- No outside food or beverages

- Parking available on street at meters or several nearby pay lots. Or Go Metro! Velveteria is midway between Union Station and the Chinatown Gold Line Station, less than 10 minutes walking from either direction.

Advance Tickets Only. All Sales Final.

Spend the day with us! Browse the LA Schedule to plan your day.

After a full day of exploring, join us for an after-party at Valley Relics w/ DJ Mukta Mohan & Magician Siegfried Tieber! Celebrate adventure with your fellow explorers, surrounded by retro signage and other modern commercial antiquities.