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

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Hand Pulled: The Complete Shag Print Collection

I’ve been a fan of the artist Shag (Josh Agle) for a solid decade now, so I was excited to hear that the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana was hosting Hand Pulled: The Complete Shag Print Collection.

This retrospective features all the prints Shag has released from 1999-2011, including every serigraph, etching, giclée and off-set print—more than 250 in all.

So much Shag, as far as the eye could see! The bright colors really popped against the simple black frames and white walls.

For me it was a bit of a trip down memory lane as I got to see in person some of the images that first turned me on to Shag, like the Paul Frank partnership “Sylvie and Jules” which dates back to 2000.

The space off to the right housed Shag’s collaborations with Disney. In 2003, he was commissioned to do a series for The Enchanted Tiki Room‘s 40th anniversary and it proved so popular that he’s also produced designs for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary, Haunted Mansion’s 40th anniversary, the Disney Cruise Line and just recently, Disney World’s 40th anniversary.

Some highlights from the exhibit included this promotional poster for Madame Guignol’s Macabre Theatre on the left. So often there’s something sinister lurking in the tableau, but here it takes center stage (literally).

I also loved seeing the details in the Villain Suite, a series of four etchings from 2001. Here we have “Kitty Q” and her cohorts.

Special for this show’s opening, Shag and Harveys produced two styles of seatbelt bags that apparently sold out instantly.

Be sure to browse through the gift shop, because that’s where you’ll find this special piece. Besides being one of Shag’s earliest paintings (his 6th or 7th), “Ray’s Mistake” from 1996 pays tribute to Ray Buhen and his signature drink from the Tiki-Ti. Shag even touched up the originally gold frame to make it look more like bamboo. (You can even buy it if you have a spare sixteen grand.)

These are the last few weeks to catch the exhibit as it ends on August 14. Shag will be making an appearance and signing merchandise at the closing reception on Saturday, August 6 at 6 p.m. The gallery is located in a lovely courtyard in the Arts District, which has an Old Town feel and merits a visit on its own.

Shag: The Store – Palm Springs, CA

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shag: The Store is now located at 745 N Palm Canyon Dr.

Last year, the folks at M Modern gallery opened Shag: The Store in Palm Springs—the first permanent retail space dedicated to the artwork of Josh Agle. It appropriately keeps some pretty swank company, with Trio Restaurant right next door and vintage and mid-century design stores nearby.

The store has an impressive stash of prints, mugs, books and other stuff, with many items that were previously sold-out. From time to time they also have prints that are exclusive to Shag: The Store, like the one coming up for their first anniversary.

During our visit they were featuring Shag’s collaborations with Disneyland from 2002 to 2010, including the much-coveted mugs inspired by the Enchanted Tiki Room.

They also had merch from the Haunted Mansion and Disneyland 50th anniversary series. I was sort of startled to see a stationery set I own (and apparently foolishly used) going for nearly $200. (Though that price includes the cost of not having to time-travel back to Disneyland five years ago when it was originally being sold).

It was fun to marvel at rarities like these “Japanese exclusive” mugs from 2006. (In this case, the price of the set includes the cachet of coming from Shag’s own collection…plus the peace of mind of not having your mugs arrive in pieces due to the carelessness of an eBay seller.)

There was at least one deal to be had, though. For five bucks, I picked up a Shag vinyl CD case. (You know, for those almost obsolete shiny round things that play music?)

The neatest part of the store is this groovy backdrop wall with a Shag-style tiki where you can pose like you’re in one of his paintings. If you ask nicely they’ll even bring out a box of fun props like fezzes!

The Shag Store
725 N. Palm Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
760-322-3400

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shag: The Store is now located at 745 N Palm Canyon Dr.