Information Sought on McVicker Art

McVicker art of a Polynesian revue
McVicker art of a Polynesian revue
Detail of McVicker art
Detail of McVicker art

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.

McVicker signature
McVicker signature

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!

9 thoughts on “Information Sought on McVicker Art

  1. an update: My Aunt has found out that this was an advertisement piece for The Yankee Clipper’s Polynesian room.
    That is the extent of the info I am able to get on this piece.


  2. That’s great, thegreenman, thanks for the update. How funny that it’s for the very place where the Tiki Bazaar and Kailuageoff’s seminar is taking place. I wonder if anyone there at the Yankee Clipper will be able to give more info on it?


  3. It is J. Jay McVicker I’ve pasted a bio below:
    The following, submitted March 2005, is an obituary of J Jay McVicker, “a very accomplished artist who followed behind Mr. Doel Reed as the department chair of the Department of Art at Oklahoma State University”. The source is the “Sweetwater News Press”.

    J. Jay McVicker, 92, of Stillwater, died Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004, in Westhaven Nursing Home, Stillwater.

    He was born in Vici ,Oklahoma Oct. 18, 1911, to Jesse Allen and Clara Mae (Hendrick) McVicker. He married Laura Beth Paul Aug. 20, 1938. She died in 1993.

    He was an artist and educator. He received his B.A. at Oklahoma State University, 1940 and his M.A. in 1941. He was on the faculty at OSU, Stillwater, 1941 as a professor of art, 1959-77, professor Emeritus, 1977, head department, 1959-77.

    His exhibits included San Francisco Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seattle Museum of Art, Museum of Non-Objective Painting, New York, Chicago Art Institute, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Denver Art Museum, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, National Academy of Design, Downtown Gallery, New York, Pasadena Art Institute, Oakland Art Gallery, Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans, Library of Congress, United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Carnegie Institute, The Print Club of Philadelphia, Joslyn Memorial Art Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Salon Des Realites Nouvelles, Paris, Galleria Origine, Rome, Whitney Museum of American Art and Momentum Mid-Continental, Chicago.

    He is included in the following collections: Library of Congress, Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College, Texas, Springfield Art Museum, Missouri, Seattle Art Museum (Northwest Printmaking Collection), Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, Memphis, Tenn., Birmingham Public Library, Chapman Collection, Society of American Etchers Collection, California Water Color Society Collection, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Wichita Art Association, Chicago Society of Etchers Collection, Philbrook Art Center, Laguna Beach Art Association, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Joslyn Art Museum, numerous private collections and United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

    He has exhibits in group shows of prints abroad including Istanbul, Athens, Cairo, Manila, London, Brussels, Lyon, Rome, Vienna, Belgrade, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Mexico, Norway, Casablanca, Saigon, Paris, Bordighera, Lima, Panama and Germany.

    He is included in “Who’s Who in American Art”, “Who’s Who in America” and “Who’s Who in the World.”
    He did do a lot of abstract but also wpa style illustration art.
    I hope that this helps.

    Best regards, Mark


  4. My father, Roger Lloyd McVicker was a commercial artist in Ft. Lauderdale from 1954, and still working until three months prior to his death at 79 in Jan. of 2005. This was his artwork for the Yankee Clipper.

    He was an artist from a young age and the only formal art training he had was as a young teenager from one of those corespondance schools you used find on the backs of matchbooks. After a short time his instructor told him not to send any more money, because there was nothing more he could teach him. He made money during high school painting lobby posters for the local movie theater in Jeannette, Pa. He then enlisted in the Navy, wanting to be a pilot, but was sent to the Webb Institute of Navel Architecture, then later attended the U. of Pittsburgh. While in the Navy he had shore leave in South Florida and fell in love with it. Hating those cold, snowy winters in Pennsylvania, in August of 1954 he bought a new two tone, red and white Chevy, sold the house and packed up my Mom and four kids and moved to Ft. Lauderdale.

    He initially worked for Gil Sayward Assoc. located on Broward Blvd. and Andrews Ave. in the center of downtown Ft. Lauderdale, but later went freelance and had his own studio. His forte was pre-construction architectural rendering and he worked with several architects and developers in South Florida. His attention to detail was incredible and so precise his paintings almost looked like photos of finished buildings. His signature changed somewhat over the years but I feel confident this is his work. I was about 7 years old when the Yankee Clipper opened, which was a big deal as it is (or was) the only hotel actually situated on Ft. Lauderdale beach, as all the others are across the street (on A1A aka Atlantic Blvd.). We, his family were very proud of his work for the Yankee Clipper as it may have been one of his first big commissions after going freelance, and I vaguely remember the brochure with his artwork. I think the developer was Bob(?) Gil and as additions to the hotel were planned my Dad worked directly with him. Dad bought one of his houses in Gilcrest Estates on Davie Blvd. Mr. Gil lived on Riverland Road, not far from us, and he and my Dad sometimes went deep sea fishing on Mr. Gil’s boat.

    After his passing my brothers, sister and I (seven of us in altogether) divided up Dad’s presentation books. His renderings number in the thousands, as you can imagine over the course of 50 + years, and at the very least represent nearly every highrise on the beach north of Oakland Park Blvd. I’m really glad you appreciate his work and am happy I could clear up your mystery. I’d love to know how much it auctioned for. What a hoot! Dad would get a kick out of it.



  5. My husband & I purchased this original tempera sketch at the Hukilau’s auction at the MaiKai in 2009. I had so much interest in the piece, I decided to have limited edition giclees on canvas produced. I limited the edition to 100 and each piece is numbered and has a certificate. It is great to finally get the correct information about this piece and the artist. I love the scene! Lighting and movement are spectacular. I wish I could have seen the mural before it was destroyed.


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