Black Velvet Art

By Eric A. Eliason
Photographs by Scott Squire

144 pages (approx.), 9 x 9 inches, 150 color photographs

978-1-60473-794-3 Cloth $30.00T

Cloth, $30.00

An appreciation and discovery of meaning and beauty in a popular but undervalued art form

Jesus, matadors, panthers, bandits, Indians, movie stars, waifs, and, of course, Elvis are recognized icons of the oft-despised, über-kitsch art form of black velvet painting. Black Velvet Art presents a comprehensive overview of this covertly loved and overtly reviled tradition.

In cooperation with a network of artists, collectors, importers, and gallery owners in Tijuana, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Calgary, author Eric A. Eliason and photographer Scott Squire draw from the largest survey of velvet painting ever undertaken. The book traces velvet's historical development as a folk art shaped by both indigenous traditions as well as Western consumer expectations in such markets as the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, and particularly the U.S./Mexico border and the black velvet capital of Tijuana. In black velvet, class and taste challenge art as a consumer phenomenon, democratic spirit faces down elitism, reproduction questions originality, and sensuality seduces and provokes religiosity.

What is most significant about black velvet art to many Americans is its role as the very nadir of bad taste. Black velvet is in many ways the "anti-art." This book seeks to explore how and why black velvet serves this function and to examine ways it speaks to individuals around the world.

Eric A. Eliason, Provo, Utah, is professor of English at Brigham Young University. His books include The J. Golden Kimball Stories and The Fruit of Her Hands: Saba Lace History and Patterns.

Scott Squire, Seattle, Washington, is a photographer and filmmaker whose first book, Edges of Bounty: Adventures in the Edible Valley (with William Emery), was published in 2008. His work has appeared in Mother Jones, Seattle's Art Frye Museum, and PBS's Frontline.

144 pages (approx.), 9 x 9 inches, 150 color photographs