Memento Mori — the medieval Latin theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.

(Left) Arielle immerses herself in bookish gloom. (Middle) Ashley fiddles with vintage surgical tools. (Right) Books by Paul Koudounaris.

 

Memento Mori in Echo Park adheres well to the sentiments of its namesake. Depictions of death, the taboo, the mysterious and the old are glorified here, yet never have these things looked more beautiful, unique or treasured. One step into Memento Mori and you have undoubtedly entered a menagerie of wild and wondrous things, many of which have existed long before of us.

Aligning the shelves in Edward Gorey perfection, you will uncover one-of-a-kind merchandise including rare antiques, hundred-year-old photographs, vintage perfume and apothecary bottles and books by Paul Koudounaris, the esteemed author and photographer specializing in macabre art. This collector’s heaven also displays an impressive assortment of stunning, often perplexing jewelry such as gold-enameled bone necklaces and embalmed seahorse rings.

 

Memento Mori Echo Park Los Angeles(Left ) Ashley in a wooden tribal mask. (Top Right) Nautical themed bracelet by Classic Hardware. (Bottom Right) Vintage photos, some dating back almost 100 years ago.

 

The walls are mounted with gothic pieces by Echo Park’s very own Fernando Lopez, as well as encased insects that, perhaps in contrast to their living existences, serenely exhibit their unexpected elegance in this newfound stillness. These once-living treasures — for that they surely are — along with museum-caliber taxidermy, are displayed and sold under strict taxidermy laws in line with the ethical treatment of animals. In essence, all animals died of natural causes, allowing their remaining bodies to live on as art.

Memento Mori’s owners, husband-wife power team Bradley and Deirdre Hartman, have spent the last 15 years collecting, curating and even creating many of the artifacts found in the store; a palpable labor of love sensed immediately inside. Their keen sense of aesthetic design, style and decor leaves almost every patron unexpectedly inspired.

(Top Left) Gold plated mink and raccoon jaw necklaces. (Bottom Left) Arielle writes on a 1921 Underwood typewriter alongside Maitland Smith Penshell Balloon Lamp with Verdigris Bronze Patina Mounts. (Top Middle) A dinosaur necklace. (Bottom Middle) Ashley experiments with the afterlife in a real life coffin. (Top Right) Spider and dinosaur rings. (Bottom Right) Vintage cocktail tray.

 

“The shop is a lot about lifestyle, so a huge goal for us was to create a space that was also social, not just about retail… I think the biggest compliment is when people come in here and feel so comfortable; where they can touch things or be reminded of their grandmother. There’s something for everyone.”

(Left) The Memento Mori masterminds, Deirdre and Bradley Hartman. (Right) I, Echo Park gets spooky.

 

These goals have manifested themselves quite successfully, bringing light to the dark and the uncanny in ways that intrigue the masses with nostalgic wonder. As for the social aspect, Memento Mori is often used to house events, such at their upcoming All Hallow’s Eve and Dia de los Muertos party this Saturday the 24th. There will be music by DJ Senor Amor, tintype photographs and morbidly festive libations.

If you haven’t had the pleasure (and indeed it is a pleasure) of experiencing this magical place firsthand, this social hour bodes the perfect opportunity to do so. Be prepared to stay a while, though; your eyes will undoubtedly feast away as your mind drifts into the extraordinary dream that is, Memento Mori.

(Top Left) Lamp by Xray Vision Designs with Geisha inspired taxidermy art figurine. (Bottom Right) Steampunk style binoculars. (Middle) Arielle with Dia de los Muertos memorabilia. (Top Right) Books and other collectables. (Bottom Right) Ashley channels her inner pirate.  

 

Memento Mori All Hallows’ Eve and Dia de los Muertos Party

October 24th, 7:00 PM – Midnight

2209 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026