The Los Angeles Visionary Association Salon and a Walking Tour of Victorian Downtown Los Angeles

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The Los Angeles Visionary Association, founded and directed by art historians Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, who are also the owners and operators of the amazing noir Los Angeles tour company, Esotouric, has been holding monthly salons for nearly two years at historic Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. I’ve been a member since the beginning, but this was the first time I’ve managed to attend a salon. It was wonderful fun.

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The opening event was a set of original songs performed by the Ukulady, Thessaly Lerner, and her band (on mandolin and electric autoharp). The Ukulady evolved her act during her years as a student and then a teacher at Wavy Gravy’s Camp Winnarainbow Circus and Performing Arts Camp in Northern California.

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Next up was a slide show lecture by the gorgeously attired Dr. Paul Koudounaris, professor of art history at California State University Dominguez Hills, to introduce his book, Empire of Death, a lavish collection of his photos and research on the world’s forgotten charnel houses, ossuaries, and reliquaries.

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After the salon, we all trooped out after Richard Schave and Nathan Marsak, who gave us a rousing walking tour and lecture on Victorian Los Angeles.

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I particularly loved the Bradbury Building, a gloriously designed and constructed Victorian edifice, and our guides’ tale of how it was saved from destruction by fire by a brave and dedicated elevator operator.

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Kim pointed out that the building’s elevator grills had little demon’s heads in the filigree.

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Even the view out the side door of this building offered a dream scene.

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Downtown Los Angeles fascinates with unapologetic Victorian grandeur, …

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…ambitious, passionate murals,…

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…and unexpected entertainers (that’s a banjo player on a bicycle trailer).