Tiki Tablescaping & Luminasia at the LA County Fair

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Every year we go to the LA County Fair and every year I stumble across something related to tiki. (And every year we wonder why we ride this giant Ferris Wheel as we freak out when it reaches the top.)

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Our latest fried food adventure was fried Doritos, which were, in a word, unnecessary. They paled in comparison to Chicken Charlie’s previous triumphs of fried avocado and the fried Klondike Bar. (Though we may not eat any more fried food at the fair since we discovered the amazing duck confit grilled cheese from the Street Kitchen stand.)

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One of the halls housed the exhibit “Mid-Century Modern” which featured some gorgeous cars and vintage furniture sort of oddly interspersed with vending booths for artists with retro flair. (Among them was Rachel Walker, whose “Pina Colada” print provided the first tiki sighting of the day.)

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And surprisingly, that was the only tiki-related thing I saw in that exhibit. (The two often go hand in hand, as I’ve found at Palm Springs Modernism Week.) At any rate, the pièce de résistance for me was this amazing Arkay “Fantasia” television (aka Kuba “Tango” Stereo Console) produced between 1959-1962. Those lines!

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Last year I had lamented the lack of tiki representation in the tablescaping section of the arts and crafts building, but this year did not disappoint! “Turn the Table” featured a tiki from Oceanic Arts, Trader Vic’s salt and pepper shakers, Don Ho “Suck ‘em Up” glasses, Dynasty Easter Islander mugs, bamboo flatware and more.

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The judges awarded top points for originality/creativity for the upside-down table and its tiki torch legs, but points were docked in the correctness category: “Fruit for salad and dessert course is repetitive. Questioning the knife, as it does not go with the menu. Lobster pick is appropriate but nut pick is not.” Still, it scored 90/100 points, which was good enough for the fourth place ribbon.

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Another highlight was the new exhibit Luminasia, an impressive display of about 300 giant Chinese lanterns shaped like animals, flowers and famous landmarks near and far.

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The colorful creations were made by more than 50 Chinese artisans from Zigong, a city in the Sichuan province that’s known for its lantern festivals.

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It was an additional $9 to walk through it, but we thought it was worth it, especially when I spotted this trio of Moai in gold, silver and copper colors. They were placed among other icons like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Eiffel Tower and…Morongo Casino. (They were a sponsor.)

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The 2014 LA County Fair ends after this weekend, so you better get going if you haven’t already!

Related Posts:
Tikis, Mermaids & More at the LA County Fair

Tiki Sno Cones & Tablescaping at the LA County Fair
LA County Fair: Tiki Cake

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Not-to-Miss Tiki Events This Summer

Florida’s Hukilau just wrapped and tiki events are in full swing for the summer. Here’s a heads-up on some of the festivities coming up — admittedly with a Southern California bias.

June 26-29 – Ohana Luau at the Lake, Lake George, NY

“The Biggest Little Event in Tiki” takes place at The Tiki Resort in Lake George, NY, a Polynesian-themed motor inn from the 1950s.

King Kukulele and the Friki Tikis

June 28 – 10th Annual Tiki Night at the Egyptian Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

The gorgeous Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood will screen the excellent documentary “Plastic Paradise: A Swingin’ Trip Through America’s Polynesian Obsession” along with some bonus tiki film clips. There will also be performances from King Kukulele & The Friki Tikis and the Polynesian Paradise Dancers in the courtyard.

Brad Parker show at La Luz de Jesus in LA

July 4 – Opening Reception for Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker’s Art Show at La Luz de Jesus, Los Angeles, CA

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker‘s tiki-influenced “low brow art” will once again grace the walls of La Luz de Jesus gallery in Los Angeles from July 4-27. The Insect Surfers will rock the opening reception on Independence Day. Also: There will be rum.

July 11-13 – Tiki Kon: Mysteries of the Deep, Portland, OR

Portland’s Tiki Kon features a line-up of surf and lounge bands, burlesque, tiki vendors, panel discussions (“Home Tiki Bar Basics”) and more.

July 19 – International Tiki Marketplace at Don the Beachcomber, Sunset Beach, CA

The International Tiki Marketplace at Don the Beachcomber is your bi-monthly opportunity to go on a serious tiki shopping spree — I know from experience. Dozens of vendors offer tiki mugs, carved tikis, art, jewelry, etc.

August 14-17 – Tiki Oasis, San Diego, CA

San Diego’s Tiki Oasis has a beatnik flavor for this 14th installment. The epic weekend features tons of bands, symposiums, burlesque, a vintage car show and much more.

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August 23-24 – Tiki Beach Festival, Long Beach, CA

It’s no competition for Tiki Oasis, but Long Beach’s Tiki Beach Festival has its charms, among them Polynesian dancing, Hawaiian food and canoe rides.

Tiki Pop exhibit in Paris

Now through September 29 – Tiki Pop Exhibition, Paris, France

The Book of Tiki author Sven Kirsten‘s special exhibit “Tiki Pop: America Imagines its own Polynesian Paradise” is now on display at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris. The accompanying book is available for pre-order and will be released on August 1.

Check out the Events Calendar section on Tiki Central for even more postings. I also tend to post about upcoming tiki events on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Posts:
Tiki Night at the Egyptian Theatre 2012: DVD of Tiki, Vol. 1
Tiki Beach Festival in Long Beach 2012

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