Dark Art Emporium offers an oases of shadowy surrealism amidst the sunshine of Long Beach.
With its sunny climes and proximity to the placid Pacific Ocean, Long Beach is the last place one would expect to find a temple to Macabre Art, and yet, with an almost surreal indifference to the anomalous juxtaposition with its surroundings, the Dark Art Emporium rests comfortably on a corner of Elm Avenue near downtown. Here, connoisseurs of the strange and unusual will find much to electrify their imaginations, in a setting well suited to the works on display.
Dark Art Emporium Review: Ghostly Gallery
The Dark Art Emporium lives up to its name, both literally and figuratively. The small gallery uses an open floor plan to showcase ghoulish canvases and morbid oddities, which adorn walls predominantly in black, with the occasional skull-themed wallpaper to break the monotony. Though packed tightly together, the artworks do not feel cramped, and clever lighting illuminates them perfectly, without muting the tenebrous atmosphere.
On a typical day, art lovers will encounter work honoring their favorite horror icons, new and old: everything from Frankenstein to The Shape of Water to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane to a recent exhibit of paintings inspired by Disneyland's The Haunted Mansion.
Some of the artists' names will be familiar to those who frequent Sugar Mynt Gallery, such as Chet Zar, whose "Gunpoint" we saw on display, featuring a sinister, gun-wielding figure silhouetted against a surreal backdrop of jagged peaks. We were also rather taken by Mike Bell's "Love You to Death," which depicted tattooed, almost punkish variations of the Frankenstein Monster and his Mate, as embodied by Boris Karloff and Else Lanchester as seen in the 1935 horror movie classic, The Bride of Frankenstein.
Price ranges should suit all pocketbooks. The most expensive items we saw were marked at $2,000. Smaller original works were priced as low as $150. There were also reproductions for under $100.
Dark Art Emporium Review: Grim Curios & Special Events
In addition to paintings, Dark Art Emporium houses numerous curiosities, such as Ouija boards, plastic dolls in wired cages, and a piano transformed into an object d'art via the addition of numerous decorative details (chess pieces, etc).
The shelves are adorned with numerous skulls, skeletons, and stuffed animals; a sign on the wall proudly proclaims that all the dead things in the store are indeed real. These later objects create a notable contrast with the artwork on the walls, which tends toward spooky and surreal rather than grim and gruesome.
Dark Art Emporium hosts frequent events, such as art classes, parties, and performances. A small section in back is set aside themed exhibits, which launch with opening night gatherings, usually one each month. Starting Saturday, March 9 is Paradisos Fall, featuring work by David Van Gough, inspired by Milton's Paradise Lost. Upcoming on April 6 are Speaking in Ghosts by Jeremy Cross and Threshold by Teodor Dumistrescu.
Dark Art Emporium Review: Conclusion
Though we are not thrilled by real dead things (even if they are "ethically obtained"), the Dark Art Emporium is not as morbid as one might expect. The owners are cordial; the atmosphere is welcoming to visitors; and the gallery offers the perfect setting for creepy canvases - a sort of sinister oases from the sunshine and surf of Long Beach.
Parking is available on the street, if you are lucky enough to find a spot, and in a small lot half a block away. The latter resembles a setting where Spider-Man would save a victim from a mugging in an MCU film, but nothing the least bit sinister happened to us when we parked there on a cold winter's night.
Dark Art Emporium offers online sales through its website, but avid collectors are advised to visit the establishment in person. Just buffer yourself for the inevitable culture shock of stepping from the sunny mirth of Long Beach into the sinister surroundings of this ghoulish gallery.
Dark Art Emporium Rating
Hollywood Gothique Says:
The Dark Art Emporium’s shadowy gallery of of sinister art offers a welcome oases from the sunshine and surf of Long Beach.
The Dark Art Emporium is located at 256 Elm Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802. Hours are by appointment Monday through Wednesday. Regular business hours are 11am to 8pm Thursday through Saturday and 11am to 6pm on Sunday. For more information, call (562) 612-1118 or visit their website at: darkartemporium.com.