“55th Annual Cocktail Climb” Print Release Party at Shag: The Store

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Every time we visit Palm Springs we try to stop by Shag: The Store as they are constantly coming out with new prints and merchandise from my favorite tiki artist Shag (aka Josh Agle).

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During Modernism Week, the gallery hosted a little shindig in honor of the release of the print “The 55th Annual Cocktail Climb.” It attracted quite a turnout!

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Snaking around the store was a line of people waiting to get something signed by Shag, who was decked out in one of those highly coveted Enchanted Tiki Room attraction host shirts.

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It’s fun to admire the special items the gallery has on display, such as this 1999 lithograph of “Departure, Stopover, Arrival,” which was billed as Shag’s most rare print and on offer for $3,500.

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Last year, Tiki Farm and Shag teamed up to produce giant volcano bowl sets ($375) that included a print and four mugs. They were produced in three glazes and there are still sets available in the green Koei glaze.

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I couldn’t resist getting one of these pufferfish pillows ($75). Not only is it adorable, but the fabric is velvety soft. Now we just need a vacation home in Palm Springs so I have an excuse to get the other design too. (I believe there was also a round Pink Elephant pillow but I didn’t see any left by the time we got there.)

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I also snapped up a set of Shag drinking glasses ($50), which each have a design for a tiki drink: Mai Tai, Blue Hawaiian, Scorpion, Zombie. These had sold out in 2012, so it was nice to see them back in stock.

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There were some leftovers from the first-ever MOD Palm Springs event, like these “Firedancer” mugs ($100) designed by Shag and produced by Eekum Bookum. Some of these items I’ve mentioned can also be found in the online store (but if you’ve seen something you like that’s not there you should call because they’re very accommodating).

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If you’d like to be in-the-know about future Shag art and merch, you should go sign up for the e-mail newsletter for Shag: The Store.

Related Posts:
Previous Shag: The Store Review
Retro-a-Rama Art Show at M Modern Gallery
Previous Palm Springs Modernism Week Coverage

Shag: Pink Elephants Art Show

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My favorite tiki-influenced artist is Shag (aka Josh Agle), whose paintings often portray retro revelers indulging in various vices and swilling martinis. But it seems like life has been imitating art a bit too much lately, as Shag candidly shared in the press release for his most recent solo exhibition, Pink Elephants, at the Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City.

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He said: “I used alcohol as an aid to create art and as a means to escape the expanding responsibilities of a successful art career…Because I was a well-known artist well known for the glorification of cocktails, I drank for free in many bars and restaurants. Painting became something I did between binges…I stopped drinking the day I realized I hadn’t lifted a paint brush in a week…I’m not declaring I’ll never drink again — I cherish my rum too much…In the meantime, I can make paintings about drinking — paintings that embellish, rebuke, condemn and extol it.”

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The concept of seeing pink elephants has been associated with over-imbibing for at least a century. Jack London is credited with its first recorded use in 1913: “the man…who walks generously with wide-spread, tentative legs, falls frequently in the gutter, and who sees, in the extremity of his ecstasy, blue mice and pink elephants.” (You may be familiar with it from that trippy “Pink Elephants on Parade” dream sequence in “Dumbo.”)

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In addition to the original paintings, the show also included a sculptural piece called Phaedra that Shag designed and Mod Fab produced. One hundred are available and they come with a limited edition serigraph. The sculpture also makes an appearance in “Office Politics” (in the photo above this one).

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Not all of the paintings had pink elephants in them, but they all related to the theme of intoxication, like “Her Lucky Charms.”

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“The Four Martini Lunch” felt very “Mad Men” to me with its misbehaving businessmen. I swear the one on the left looks like Roger Sterling.

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My favorite from the show would probably be “Eight Shades of Drunk.” I can’t resist a good pun — or even a bad one, generally — and I dig the humor and, of course, the atomic-style lampshades.

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I also liked the nod to The Beatles in “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Pink Elephants.” (Though theoretically shouldn’t they have been Elefants with an F or another intentionally wrong spelling?)

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Naturally, I was keeping an eye out for something tiki, so I was pleased to discover “The Plastered Castaway” with its seemingly concerned Moai.

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There were even a dozen smaller paintings of partying pink elephants. Pink elephants have appeared in Shag’s art before, as mentioned on Shagwatch, but I think it’s safe to say that this is the first show in which they’ve been so prominently featured.

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The original paintings sold for thousands of dollars each, but per usual there were a few prints on offer for the more casual customer. “E is For Elephants” ($150, edition of 250) is a continuation of Shag’s A to Z art series. Shag also collaborated with letterpress designer Kevin Bradley on this interesting print “29 Drinks” ($100, edition of 150).

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In other Shag news, he just released a new print called “The Lost Book” that’s being sold on Shagmart. And for Palm Springs Modernism Week, Shag: The Store will host a print release party on Feb. 15 for “The 55th Cocktail Climb,” plus there’s yet another print, “Havana Cha Cha,” for the opening night Modern Mambo! event at Caliente Tropics on Feb. 13.

Related Posts:
Tiki Events at Palm Springs Modernism Week 2014
Shag: Animal Kingdom
Enchanted Tiki Room 50th Anniversary Merchandise by Shag

Animal Kingdom by Shag – Corey Helford Gallery

IMG_6811On February 11, the Corey Helford gallery in Culver City hosted an opening party for Shag’s latest exhibition of paintings entitled Animal Kingdom. His previous show here was the doom and gloom fest Autumn’s Come Undone in late 2009, but now Shag’s sophisticates are once again carelessly swilling martinis in brightly colored swank pads.

IMG_6801The place was packed from the get-go as folks lined up to get free commemorative posters (for the first 500 guests). More than half of the 15 new paintings had already been sold by the time we walked in. Shag himself (Josh Agle) was there posing for photos and signing things — you couldn’t miss him since he had donned a pair of antlers just like some of his art subjects.

IMG_6821The press release for this show notes that Shag found inspiration from a vintage costume pattern that simply modified the ears and tails to portray different animals. However, he also points out a more modern muse: “I’ve noticed a lot of teenagers and hipsters recently wearing hoodies and beanies with animal ears, antlers or horns. Maybe there is a subconscious urge to return to our animalistic natures.”

IMG_6806 Wolves, bulls, birds, monkeys, and cats especially have frequently appeared alongside people in his works, often in an anthropomorphic manner. Here the theme is being turned around with the humans expressing their wild sides sartorially.

IMG_6812The centerpiece of the show was the eight-foot-long painting “Predators and Prey,” which was also my favorite for its nearly neon colors. Now if only I had $40,000 burning a hole in my pocket.

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I did also dig some of the smaller pieces like the Catwoman-esque “Black Kitten in Purple,” which had two other complementary versions in green and orange.

IMG_6826 In a neat tech-savvy twist, there was a little QR Code next to each painting. When you scanned each barcode with the camera on your smartphone, it took you to a special web page. I thought it might tell you the painting’s name or price, but instead it displayed a sentence or two to set the scene.

IMG_6829The best ones showed a wicked sense of humor, like this one for “Wayward Cub”…”She didn’t have a problem with Stevie’s drinking until the first drop of his Purple Rain hit the snowy white fur of her ex-husband.”

IMG_6815You can see the paintings on Shag’s site and read all those vignettes by clicking on the dots towards the bottom of the page. Animal Kingdom by Shag will be on display at the gallery through March 3, 2012.

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Corey Helford Gallery
522 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
310-287-2340