Take a trip to the islands without leaving the city.
Oddball Art Labs presents “Totally Tiki: A Tidal Wave of Tiki Art and Culture”, an exhibition celebrating faux Polynesian mid-century art.
“The work we’ve seen so far is a fascinating mix. It’s a combination of professional artists and student artists,” said director Mike Rende of Oddball Art Labs. “Some of them are more strictly than the representation of Tiki idols.”
But there are also Polynesian images such as the hula and the bamboo, he said.
The exhibition will run July 1-16 at the Robin and Mark Siegel Gallery at Elgin ArtSpace Lofts in downtown Elgin.
The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. An opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on July 1 and a closing reception from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 16. At the closing reception, children can create their own tiki.
“The Tiki boom really happened after WWII and it kind of grew. In the 50s, 60s, it was kind of a fake Polynesian culture,” said director Dave Metzger of Oddball Art. Labs.” It became something more of a trend, and then it kind of died out. And the artists kind of brought it back.
“There really was quite a resurgence in the early 2000s of the whole Tiki aesthetic,” Rende said. “While all the Tiki bars and restaurants and bowling alleys tended to close in the late 60s/early 70s, you have a few Tiki bars and restaurants that opened in the 2000s.”
The open-call art exhibition will feature approximately 60-80 works (the submission period was still open at the time of the interview) in a variety of mediums. As long as the art matches the theme and is family friendly – the gallery is inside the residential Elgin ArtSpace Lofts – it is part of the exhibition.
“It’s been a fascinating wide range of art. We tend to call in our big shows in July because we want to attract the greatest diversity of artwork there,” Rende said. “I know I find it so fascinating when you end up having student artwork hanging in the gallery alongside famous artists around the world and exhibited in galleries all over the United States and abroad. foreign.
“It’s just a humbling and exhilarating experience for everyone to be able to see the energy that everyone puts into their own interpretations of any of these weird themes that we’ve found,” Rende said.
Originally scheduled for summer 2020, like everything else, the exhibition was postponed due to COVID-19. This is Oddball Art Labs nonprofit’s first big show since 2019’s “Cartoon Cavalcade.”
“All of our shows tend to be more pop culture themed,” Metzger said.
Past shows have featured topics like robots, science fiction, pin-up art, and “Fez Fest,” which revolved around the one-hat.
Similar to other Oddball Art Labs exhibits, admission to the exhibit is $5, with proceeds going to a non-profit organization. Proceeds from “Totally Tiki” will benefit Friends of the Fox River, which works to preserve, protect and restore the Fox River.
“They seemed like a natural fit for this show,” Rende said. “And they donated two paddle boards that were used and no longer airworthy to us.
“One of them is made into what we call a ‘jam painting’, where multiple artists paint on it so that in the end you have a work of art that maybe 10 to 15 artists contributed,” he said. “The other, one of our artists has plans for. He promises it will be memorable but he won’t tell us what it is yet…Even we will be surprised on opening night when he reveals what he planned for that.
Most of the artwork in the exhibition is for sale, and artists often bring prints of their work to sell as well.
Rende and Metzger said the best times to visit the exhibition are during the opening and closing receptions, when the Oddball artists will be at the gallery.
The opening reception coincides with the first Friday of the Elgin Farmers’ Market, which takes place from 3-8 p.m.
“And it will be right on the same street as the gallery,” Rende said. “So a great opportunity to see what the Elgin Farmer’s Market has to offer as long as they are around for our show.”
Following the opening reception, an after party will take place at the Taverne de Vern.
“We always try to do a little after party where after the gallery closes people can go to a local watering hole. We’re teaming up with Vern’s Tavern…they’re going to be selling Tiki drinks,” Metzger said.
“Our primary focus in hosting art shows is the community, as well as giving back and helping other downtown businesses. Because part of our thing is wanting to revitalize downtown.
One of Oddball Art Labs’ mobile art machines will also be featured in the ‘Totally Tiki’ exhibit.
“This is a cigarette vending machine from the 1950s that we cleaned up, redesigned and sold as tiny works of art the size of a pack of cigarettes,” Rende said.
“It’s like a cut block of wood the size of a cigarette pack,” Metzger said.
Local artists paint the blocks and each piece is a unique work of art, for $5 each. For the exhibit, the machine will be filled with tiki-themed artwork.
“You put in a token and you pull the lever and the block of wood falls and you see what you get. It’s kind of a mystery,” Metzger said.
“Totally Tiki: A Tidal Wave of Tiki Art and Culture”
When: July 1-16
Where: The Robin and Mark Siegel Gallery at Elgin ArtSpace Lofts, 51 S. Spring St., Elgin
Kathy Cichon is a freelance journalist for the Courier-News.