The above art was posted by someone on Tiki Central who is looking to learn more about it. It’s lovely — I’d love to know more about it, myself. According to the poster, thegreenman, this lithograph was acquired via his aunt, who is in a south Florida retirement village. His aunt got it from a woman “who knew the artist” (the work is signed “McVicker”). This woman said it was created as a promotion for a “Polynesian gardens fire dance,” and it is from 1959. I don’t know how accurate any of that is, but I do know it’s a great scene — complete with fire dancers, hula dancers, a band, well-dressed patrons, a serving wahine, a bartender, a mysterious shady figure at the back, even a full-on decorated a-frame. It’s almost too perfect… I would have guessed that it was a modern piece, the way it so perfectly nails every Poly Pop cliche. Regardless, it’s gorgeous.
I did a quick search on “McVicker” and turned up an artist, J. Jay McVicker; he created some pieces of a similar tone, and which date from a similar age, but his style was more abstract, and a close comparison of the signatures looks like a mis-match. Thegreenman hails from Ft. Lauderdale, and a piece of framing tape on the back says “Schwarms Photo Center Bahia Mar Commercial Photography – Illustrative- Architectural-Marine” (today, there is a Bahia Mar hotel near the water in Ft. Lauderdale). The mind, of course, leaps to the Mai-Kai, which opened in 1956, but in those days the Mai-Kai wasn’t the only game in town — or at least, wasn’t the only game in south Florida. There are many folks more knowledgable than I am about Florida tiki history (Kailuageoff’s presentation at the Hukilau should be a treat), hopefully someone out there can clear up the mystery.
UPDATE: thegreenman has left a comment, stating that he learned from his aunt that this was a promotion for the Polynesian Room at the Yankee Clipper — the official hotel for this year’s Hukilau!
- 1959 Lithograph McVicker Polynesian fire dance [Tiki Central]