Jeffrey Valance (pictured), a visiting professor in new genres at UCLA, shares in the pages of UK’s Fortean Times a most intriguing recent Culver City expedition. He watched as spiritualists Christian Cummings and Michael Decker donned blackout sleep-masks at the Culver Hotel to conduct one of their famous art-seances.
The pair use a Ouija board and specially configured art tools to collaborate with ghosts on paintings, drawings and sculptures. The famous spirits they claim to have connected with include Walt Disney, Norman Rockwell and Gertrude Stein, but in this particular case, the individual whose semi-self-portrait was minted boasted a more modest pedigree.
We discover that Tim [Gondeman] worked at a local Togo’s restaurant on Venice Boulevard, no more than a mile from where the séance took place. We pack up our things and head for Togo’s to catch a late lunch.
Cummings asks to speak to the manager. “Hi. Do you know Tim Gondeman?” Taken aback by his request, the manager responds, “Were you friends with Tim?” Michael replies, “We are both friends of his.” The manager delicately explains he used to work there two years prior but reveals nothing of his post-mortal status.
For the Culver Hotel session, Decker outfitted his special planchette with a Magic Marker. Rarely has that term resonated as much as within the context of the fascinating small gathering.