Lions and Tigers and Pin-Ups, Oh My! – Jungle Drums by Shag

Corey Helford Gallery downtown

The artist Shag (aka Josh Agle) has a new solo show, Jungle Drums, at the Corey Helford Gallery through February 13, 2016. But before you jump in your car to head for Culver City, you must know that the gallery has moved to a new space in the industrial Arts District of downtown LA.

Shag Jungle Drums

Before you browse the art, you should watch Eric Minh Swenson’s two videos on display in the entrance area (or check them out online). “Shag: My Tiki Cup Runneth Over” gives a glimpse at Shag’s collection of tiki mugs and carvings.

Shag's pin-up inspiration

Meanwhile, “Shag: Jungle Drums” presents some background on the show, including a look at the main source of inspiration: a set of vintage 1950s pin-up decals “in all their politically incorrect glory” that Shag found at a thrift store in his formative younger years.

Jungle Drums art show

One of Shag’s challenges for his first show in this new location was utilizing the “airplane hangar”-like space, so he designed these tall “spirit totems” peeking out behind this wall-sized piece. I like how subjects from his art often show up again in 3D form. (Even the stylized skull tiki torches were made tangible in a collaboration with Mod Fab Group to make the “Skorch.”)

Bunny and the Beasts by Shag

In the show’s artist statement, Shag says: “In the decades since, I’ve seen women reclaim the Pin-up Girl aesthetic: strong, tattooed models and independent female photographers have revived and revitalized the genre and turned themselves into pop culture stars.” This theme of empowerment is represented in “Bunny and the Beasts,” an idealized vision of a 1950s shoot with pin-up photographer “Bunny” Yeager and the iconic Bettie Page.

Primal Cuts by Shag

“Primal Cuts” is the largest painting in the show, clocking in at nine feet long. The female revelers are attired as panthers and their “man-eating” capabilities illustrated by the butcher chart emblazoned on the brown jacket of the man on the far right. (This reminded me of “Predators and Prey” from the 2012 show “Animal Kingdom.”)

close-up of Primal Cuts by Shag

A print of “Primal Cuts” was just made available for purchase online, and Shag: The Store Palm Springs is hosting a release party on February 13th. (Shag is also participating in a few other events during Palm Springs Modernism Week, including a fundraiser cocktail party at the recently restored Caliente Tropics hotel.)

Living room by Modernica Props

The highlight for me is this mid-century modern dream of a living room outfitted by Modernica Props. (It should come as no surprise that they’ve worked with “Mad Men,” amongst many other TV shows.)

Pinup with Tiger and Spirit Mask by Shag

This is also where visitors first encounter Shag’s series of tributes to those jungle pin-ups, each posed with a wild animal and a “spirit mask.” (I’m guessing they weren’t called “tikis” since they’re not in a Polynesian environment?)

Shag spirit masks

Corey Helford Gallery is open from 12 p.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The address is on Anderson Street, but you’ll actually find the entrance and fenced-in parking lot by turning right onto Willow Street. The paintings can also be seen on the gallery’s website, but I highly recommend seeing this setup in person if you can.

Corey Helford Gallery
571 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033
310-287-2340

“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