A. Panda’s Tiki Lounge is not your typical man cave. You feel it the second you start descending the basement steps. Oh sure, there are some of the things here you would expect from a middle-aged guy: big-screen tv, poker table, bar (and lots of toy trains!). But instead of the usual sports-themed or naked chick decor, I decided to go in a different direction. This is a Tiki lounge, after all.
I take my Tiki decor pretty seriously, and I’ve collected some pretty cool stuff to-date. Tiki side speakers for the home theatre. A real pufferfish lamp. Two Tiki bars, complete with bamboo bar stools. A Polynesian Resort powder room mirror and light sconces. But what really makes me happy is the ambience I’ve created down here. The walls are painted a cozy chocolate color, Mocha Java, with some orange accents to spice things up. Then there’s the artwork I’ve hung on the walls. Starting, of course, with the guy who started it all for me.
Josh Agle a/k/a SHAG is my favorite artist. I’ve written about him several times in this blog, as his art introduced me to Tiki and I’ve been stalking him ever since to get more of it. I currently have 5 full-size, limited-edition prints and 1 mini print in the home theatre area of the Tiki Lounge, 4 more mini prints in the upstairs bedrooms, and 1 limited-edition print plus 1 poster print in my office at work. And this doesn’t include all of the other SHAG swag I’ve collected over the past 10 years.
So why do I love SHAG’s art so much? I think it’s the feeling of place I get from his prints. SHAG’s style is crisp and vibrant, with sharp lines, vivid colors and the commercial art feel of the 1950s-60s. It takes me back to a point in time I’ve really embraced, around the year of my birth, where well-heeled men and women drank, smoked, danced, and just really enjoyed life. Think Mad Men. But SHAG’s pictures also tell a story. He loves to put his characters in interesting situations, which you the viewer can interpret in any number of ways. It also doesn’t hurt that SHAG often features Tikis in his art. These are the prints I’ve gravitated towards, and they have in-turn introduced me to an amazing culture.
Ann Elizabeth Schlegel is a local artist and friend here in Allentown PA. She’s had classical training and prefers the foreign shores of Antibes, France, but she also has pretty deep roots in the Lehigh Valley. I got to know Ann through my volunteer work with ArtsQuest, a local arts and culture organization where she was a resident artist. That’s where I was introduced to her Adult Beverage series of paintings, featuring Mr. Martini and his bevy of beautiful beverage babes (did you see what I did there?).
I love Anne’s work. The best word to describe it is whimsical, as it evokes a feeling of fun and fantasy for me. (Okay, enough with the alliteration already, Andy. Oops!) Along with Mr. Martini, I have prints of Ms. Margarita and Ms. Manhattan (wow, again, not my fault this time, blame Ann ;-), hanging, of course, behind the bar. What better place for them to hang out?
Sandra Fremgen is the newest artist I’ve gotten to know. What a chance meeting it was. From her home in Southern California, Sandra stumbled upon (and “liked”) my A. Panda’s Tiki Lounge Facebook page. When I went to her page to check her out, I saw something that amazed me: Panda and Me. What the what?!? A whole series of artwork devoted to Mr. Panda, a secret agent surrounded by beautiful women. Only, he’s a panda. Of course, this I liked!
I’ve since come to believe Sandra and I may have been separated at birth, as we seem to share many common interests. Pandas. SHAG. Tiki. Edward Hopper. Chococat. I was excited to get my first Mr. Panda print, Saturday Night Muse, just last week. What a perfect piece of artwork for a panda-themed Tiki lounge! I look forward to exploring more of Sandra’s art.
Edward Hopper was my original favorite artist, back long before I had ever heard of Josh Agle, Ann Elizabeth Schlegel or Sandra Fremgen. His art is the antithesis of theirs: stark, photorealistic, and evoking a sense of loneliness in much of his work. Hopper is one of the greatest American modern artists, and anyone who’s ever seen Nighthawks (or the many ridiculous spoofs of it) can attest to his enduring popularity.
I would have never thought to include Edward Hopper’s work in the Tiki Lounge. One day it dawned on me, as I was finishing a wall around the corner from the powder room, just at the entrance to my toy trains area: I had the perfect train-themed print, Railroad Sunset, just sitting in a corner, collecting dust. Here was the opportunity to bring my artwork full-circle, back to where it really all began for me! I had purchased this print at the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC over 20 years ago, had it dry-mounted, then forgot about it. One quick black frame and a chocolate-colored wall later, and this piece of classic art had a new purpose.
I’m really happy with the artwork in the Tiki Lounge, and I plan to continue adding to it. I still have plenty of walls to build before I completely finish off my basement. Hopefully I’ll keep finding art that inspires (and is inspired by) my space. If you want to see all of the artwork I currently have hanging here, please check out my Facebook photo album, Artwork Hanging in the Tiki Lounge. Mahalo!