Friday, August 31, 2012

Art from the Black Velvet Abyss

WARNING:  Really hideous "art" ahead!  Please vote for your favorites in the comments section (if you get that far without clawing your eyes out).
The rodeo clown, after the show.
It's no secret that I frequent places that harbor typewriters, bits of old technology, interesting books and other cultural breccia.  Bad black velvet art fits the latter category.  As strange as it may seem, my heart goes "pitter-pat" when I find a particularly grotesque piece in an antique mall or thrift store.  These are few from the last year or so.

I'll start with one of the classic themes: the Bullfighter.  Once upon a time in America, people had Mediterranean inspired furniture and art in their living and family rooms - kind of like a really old Mexican restaurant.

The Bullfight is by far the most common black velvet theme I run across.  Some of it is quite expressive.  I just can't quite imagine it on a modern living room wall except as an intentional bit of irony.

The majesty, I tell you.

Sadly, at some point the bull must be dispatched.  I'll move on to other sporting events.  Horses-in-motion is another recurring theme.  This one also happens to be the ever popular Romanticized Native American genre.

 The Romans really knew how to throw a party!

Ripping off famous cartoon characters is also good sport.  Some prefer track and field events.

For some strange reason, I've run across three slight variations of Snoopy playing baseball.  Those eyes... they haunt me.

Elvis is the most famous black velvet portrait cliche.  I've only seen a few, but for now I'll share a kinda scary rendition of The Duke as Rooster Cogburn.

Yeah, I think black velvet portraits will need their own post.  That would be good for mid-winter when cabin fever is setting in.

If you made it this far, count me as very impressed!  You have amazing intestinal fortitude and impressive intelligence as evidenced by the fact that you can still read after losing many IQ points.  Maybe you should relax and have a drink.  Just so you know, even black velvet creatures get tired and need a rest!

Really, someone actually painted that bunny creature and someone presumably hung it on a wall. Come to think of it, he kind of reminds me of Senator Kevin, the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse, from the comic strip "Prickly City".  Maybe he spent an evening with Hunter S. Thompson.

I wish I could say something profound about the redemptive and emotionally powerful nature of velvet art.  But the world doesn't always work that way.  Sometime bad art needs to be enjoyed for the kitsch relic that it is.  Rest assured, I cannot avert my gaze from the velveteen beauties and will share more in the future.  Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your snarky comments.


  1. I never did get that fad. I guess you edited out the "naked chicks on animal skins" thematic genre.
    Of those above, however, the second bullfighter is the only one I would consider hanging. Honorable mention for the white buffalo native american one for composition, but it lost on execution.

  2. Oh GACK! Amazing drek to be sure. I'm not big on clowns, so I thought that was my choice of the BadArt Contest - but then I saw the 'My Little Ponies' hauling that centurion. I've heard of crossovers before but kiddy cartoons & Ancient Rome . . . ima barfs now.

  3. Aargh! The nightmares I'll have tonight...

  4. Ha ha! I think I'll hang a big repro of the strung-out bunny in my office and see the looks on people's faces.

    Thanks for teaching me the word "breccia."

  5. notagain: Sadly, I have not found any "naked chicks on animal skins". Guess I need to make another round of the antique malls and see if my luck changes.

    Ledeaux: Sorry if this post tested your intestinal fortitude. My only excuse for doing black velvet catch and release is that I am easily amused.

    Florian: Somewhere, a black velvet clown is laughing manically.

    Richard: The full bunny image is even scarier. It was hanging seven feet off the ground and I could only capture a section holding the phone on high.

    As for breccia, this is a common term in geology; my major before switching to environmental science. I was shocked to find it missing from Blogger's dictionary, Word and OpenOffice. However, I feel a degree of smugness in knowing that I coined the term "cultural breccia". You saw it here first!

    1. And I snagged the Blogspot name "Cultural Breccia" before anyone else got it. It will never get followers, so I can make it as random as I please!

  6. I love stuff like this. I always search out immensely ugly things while we are out antiquing. Especially ugly clown stuff...god, it is so funny.
    I cannot imagine someone hanging that last picture up in their living room, unless of course for the quirkiness of it all.
    I have never seen one of these before...thanks for giving me one more thing to look for out there.

    1. The ability to capture black velvet art in binary form and post in an interconnected computer brain is the ultimate culmination of human civilization. Happy hunting!

  7. Replies
    1. According to Wikipedia: The paintings are widely sold in rural America, and frequently have kitsch themes. They often depict images of Elvis Presley (see Velvet Elvis), Dale Earnhardt, John Wayne, Jesus, Native Americans, wolves, and cowboys, and the colors are often bright and vivid to contrast the dark velvet. They can also include more exotic or avant-garde themes.

      In other words, this is an art form with a post mid-century twist. While it may not have been common in the Second City, they are native to the Great Plains and appear with regularity in area thrift and antique stores. That was the studious answer. The pure, unadulterated version is that my people were seriously taste impaired.

  8. Dwayne, interesting, thanks for the info.
    By the way, my comment was tongue-in-cheek. ( :

    1. Yep! My tutorial was tongue-in-cheek as well. I guess I should ramp up the sarcasm setting from "covert" to "overt" ;)


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