Tiki at The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass Art Show at Creature Features – Burbank, CA

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In Burbank there’s a lovely little stretch of Magnolia Boulevard that’s home to interesting shops like Halloweentown, 8-Ball and Creature Features. In the latter, you’ll find case after case filled with sci-fi/horror/pop culture memorabilia for sale, from “Star Trek” to “Gremlins” to Tim Burton films to “The Wizard of Oz.” (They’ve been around for decades but have been in this particular brick-and-mortar location for about a year.)

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There’s also a two-room gallery space in the store that hosts group art tribute shows with themes like Godzilla and Museum of the Weird (an abandoned Disney attraction concept). Right now they’re featuring “The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass” with art inspired by the production company behind the beloved holiday specials “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964) and “Frosty the Snowman” (1969) along with other animated and stop-motion films and series.

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I was quite pleased to see “The Last Unicorn” (1982), a childhood favorite of mine, represented with a few gorgeous pieces.

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Among the dozens of contributors were artists familiar from the tiki scene, so it’s not all that surprising to see that influence come into play, as in “Yukon’s Gold” by Woody Miller. (I presume the title is a nod to the Beachcomber’s Gold drink by Don the Beachcomber.)

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Shout-out to Jay Wade Edwards for Tweeting over a photo of Miller’s “Bumbles” with a Moai mug. The folks at Tiki Magazine & More were so impressed by these paintings that they asked Miller to create the cover artwork for the current holiday issue.

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In “Heat Miser Triumphant,” Danny Hellman imagines what the world would look like if the hothead from “The Year Without a Santa Claus” (1974) had his way. Of course, the Heat Miser would have a flaming tiki drink!

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It may be the holidays, but many artists took a seasonal step back and presented art inspired by “Mad Monster Party.” Watching this 1967 stop motion film is one of my favorite Halloween traditions. Here we have “Mad Monster Party?” by Woody Welch.

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Retro artist extraordinaire Derek Yaniger really knocked it out of the park with his contribution, “Little Tibia and the Phibbeans.” (You’ve likely also seen the scribbles he’s done for Tiki Oasis and Tales of the Cocktail — and he also illustrated the recently released book Kiddie Cocktails.)

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I was also particularly enamored with another portrayal of the spooky Beatles-esque band: “Late for the Monster Party” by Gris Grimly. I dig its groovy vibe — it kind of reminds me of Scooby Doo and the gang with the Mystery Machine.

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Eric October, who designed those Moai Christmas postcards (and also painted the mural above this shop), showed off his serious talent for ceramics with this Yetch Has Lost His Head Bowl. Such a clever homage to the scene where the zombie butler’s noggin detaches and gets knocked around the party.

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The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass can be viewed during store hours at Creature Features in Burbank through Saturday, January 4, 2015. (If you can’t make it over in time to see beautiful pieces like “Journey to the Island of Misfit Toys” by Daniel Swartz, you can see a fair amount of photos on the show’s Facebook page. I also have a few more pictures over on Flickr.)

Creature Features
2904 W. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
818-842-8665

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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

Brad Parker “Tiki Shark” Art – Tales from the Tiki Lounge

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The retro-style paintings of Shag may have gotten me into tiki in the first place, but there are many talented tiki artists I haven’t talked about nearly as much. Another one of my favorites is Brad Parker, aka Tiki Shark, who had a show called “Tales from the Tiki Lounge” at La Luz de Jesus gallery last summer. (I know I’m quite late to the party with this post.)

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I first found his work a few years ago on Tiki Central and I was an instant fan of his beautiful, mystical and whimsical style. I also love how he brings in other pop-culture influences like comic books, noir and the Universal movie monsters. (Before moving to the Big Island he had worked for DC and Marvel Comics and also in Hollywood production design.)

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He’s had a longstanding gig designing beach towels for Body Glove — I have a couple and they’re awesome — and for this show he handpainted a 1980s surfboard he’d specially picked out from the “vaults” of the surf company’s headquarters in Redondo Beach.

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“Tales from the Tiki Lounge No. 10: Happy Hulaween” is a pulp-fiction-style revisiting of the “Monsters on Vacation” series I mentioned from the 13th annual Everything But the Kitsch’n Sync show a few years ago at La Luz de Jesus.

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Brad continued that theme with “The Invisible Man Goes Surfing,” who’s decked out in Body Glove gear, of course. Notice how every surfer is supposed to wear a lucky tiki pendant and this guy is no exception to that rule.

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His designs have been adapted to other items like these limited edition skate decks and tiki mugs, too. Tiki Farm has produced several of the latter, including Diga Diga Doo and Lil’ Dig (based on one of his paintings), the bestselling Hawaii 50th anniversary statehood mug and the lovely Makalani Bowl (a personal favorite). Coming up in October is the release of three sea creature tiki mugs he designed for the 60th anniversary of Body Glove.

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Thor Heyerdahl’s Peru-to-Polynesia voyage was a cakewalk compared to the shark-saturated waters in “Kon Tiki Dream.” It’s impressive how Brad depicts the static solidity of the wood tiki carving while simultaneously evoking so much emotion through its scared smile.

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Meanwhile, “Hawaiian Eye” pays tribute to the 1960s television show of the same name, which was based on the escapades of a private detective agency in Honolulu. (The Book of Tiki 10th anniversary art show at M Modern in Palm Springs also featured a painting inspired by that series.)

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You can see all the art from this exhibition on the web site for La Luz de Jesus gallery, and if you’re lucky enough to be on the Big Island you can find his other original paintings at the Wyland Kona Oceanfront Gallery. (His postcards and calendars have been popping up in souvenir shops on the Islands, too.) Brad Parker also keeps this Tiki Central thread updated with his latest projects.

Related Posts:
Retro-A-Rama Art Exhibition – Palm Springs Modernism Week 2013
Tiki Bob Art Show at the Tonga Hut
Everything but the Kitsch ‘N Sync Art Show at La Luz de Jesus