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

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(Walking in a) Tiki Wonderland at the Tonga Hut

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Maybe you’ve already started taking down the holiday decorations, but I just have to sneak one more festive post in. (I guess my new year’s resolution should be to be more timely with my blogging…)

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Last month, the Tonga Hut in North Hollywood hosted their annual Tiki Wonderland event with tiki vendors, art, tunes and tacos.

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Mr. Hockey was a good sport and accompanied me, and I think he’s glad he did because the art show introduced him to Krampus. He loves the idea of this scary beast that kidnaps the naughty children at Christmas.

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Tonga Hut had some new merchandise available at their booth, including a T-shirt collaboration ($20) with Vintage Roadside and signature rum barrel mugs produced by Tiki Farm in two glazes ($20).

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Meanwhile, Trader Pup’s Outpost had these neat tapa-style print stockings with shell necklace details ($16). I picked up the red and green ones to hang under my Bamboo Ben outrigger mug shelf in our tiki room.

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Polynesiac Jim makes awesome tiki ornaments (featured in last year’s Tiki Holiday Gift Guide). One of this year’s new designs was based on the “tiki babies” that come down from the Tangaroa tree at Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room. I also loved these Kon-Tiki pirate pendants!

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When Bahooka closed last year, they sold some of the decor during their final days but there was still a lot left. A tiki fan named Steve made a deal with the new owners to purchase all the remaining barrel lamps, plastic parrots and other things. He has a thread on Tiki Central where people can contact him about buying some of these Bahooka artifacts. I talked with him quite a bit and he seems like a real stand-up dude.

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I spent most of the time browsing the wares in the parking lot, but we did duck inside the bar so I could sample the Tonga Hut Rum Barrel ($12), a recent addition to the cocktail menu made with Montanya and Demerara rums, juices, homemade falernum and pimento dram. It was smooth and a little spicy and — as advertised — “everything a tiki drink should be.”

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Related Posts:
Tiki Wonderland 2010 at Tonga Hut
Saying Goodbye to Bahooka
Reviews of Tiki Bars in Los Angeles

Giveaway + Tonga Hut’s 55th Anniversary Celebration

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Last Sunday the Tonga Hut in North Hollywood celebrated its 55th anniversary with an art show, live music and the debut of new merch, including t-shirts, Mai Tai glasses and tiki mugs. (They also took this opportunity to announce that Tonga Hut will open a new location in Palm Springs!

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Since one of the mugs was designed by Shag — and limited to 155 — a considerable line for the merch table had already formed when we arrived a little after the noon start time.

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Shag’s elongated design ($85) is inspired by the tiki near the entrance to the bar, while the open-edition Drooling Bastard mug ($60, included a drink) pays tribute to the fountain inside.

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The art show is always a highlight at these special events at the Tonga Hut. This one included submissions from Doug Horne, Eric October, Philippe Tilikete and other creative folks.

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The bands Casino 66 and Creepxotica performed inside while the parking lot behind the bar featured a bunch of tiki and vintage vendors.

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Deadhead Rum had set up a thatched hut booth that showed off custom decorated “tsantsa” (shrunken head) bottles of their rum. They were also offering free samples of their rum and tequila.

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Just one of the many neat things for sale were these Pyrates of Lana Pua bottles. Each was decorated with a combination of shells, nautical charms and authentic African trading beads.

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I was also enamored with these bejeweled bracelets from Amy, co-owner of the Tonga Hut. I couldn’t resist getting this one…(As if I needed more Enchanted Tiki Room stuff, right? Oh well.)

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Meanwhile, Eric October had designed a print for the Tonga Hut — and Drooling Bastard buttons to boot — and Tiki Val turned the fabric into shirts and other wearable art. (They had also done the same for Bahooka when it closed.)

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The first 200 people at the event received a goodie bag filled with Tonga Hut swizzles, coasters, matchbooks, stickers and bookmark with Shag’s mug design on one side and the recipe for Tonga Hut’s Hawaiian Eye on the other.

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Mr. Hockey has graciously donated his swag bag to be awarded to one lucky reader! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post with a happy birthday message for the Tonga Hut. (Bonus entries can be earned by liking The Tiki Chick on Facebook or following me on Twitter — just leave a comment letting me you’ve done so.) I’ll randomly choose a winner by Tuesday, August 6. (Comments have to be approved on this blog, so don’t worry if yours doesn’t appear right away.)

Related Posts:
Reviews of Tiki Bars in Los Angeles
Tiki Bob Art Show at Tonga Hut
Tonga Hut’s Halloween Art Show