After four years, the world’s only velvet painting museum, Velveteria in Portland, Oregon, is set to close. Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin, who have struggled to make ends meet, are closing Velveteria when they move to Southern California at the end of the month. California natives, Anderson and Baldwin are looking forward to returning home. At some point in the future, they hope to re-open the museum, which comprises more than 2,000 black velvet paintings, at a new location in California.
At The Oregonian, Kristi Turnquist reports that Velveteria is the sort of idiosyncratic labor of love that turns up in national stories about Portland, as evidence of the city’s quirky creativity. Anderson and Baldwin have been featured on CBS’ “Sunday Morning,” Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel show, “No Reservations” and “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” to name a few. They’ve written a book about their collection, “Black Velvet Masterpieces: Highlights From the Collection of the Velveteria Museum,” from Chronicle Books. Anderson, a retired psychiatric nurse, admits she’s not a natural when it comes to running a business. They’ve never made any real money from Velveteria, she says, but up until the past year or so they never faced the prospect of going into debt to keep the place open. Two years ago, they moved from their original, cramped space to this new one, but the rent is more than three times as much. That hasn’t helped.