Saturday, November 17, 2007

California Road Trip: Tiki Island at the Bali Hai

I’m back from an incredible adventure along the California coast. Arriving on Halloween, I started in LA, dipped down to San Diego for Tiki Magazine’s “Tiki Island at the Bali Hai” art show and then cruised up to the Bay Area for the Tiki Central Tiki Crawl with all sorts of memorable pit stops along the way. Most of the time, compatriots Tiki Racer and Chongolio (who’d flown in from Kauai) were by my side. In retrospect, the whole trip seems very Wizard of Oz, with fascinating characters, new and old friends making appearances and plenty of lessons learned. However, when it came time to fly back, I was clicking my heels wishing I could stay just a little bit longer.

One of the main reasons I traveled to California was to attend "Tiki Island at the Bali Hai," a group exhibition featuring several of today's top Polynesian Pop artists. As the name implies, the show was held at the Bali Hai restaurant on San Diego's Shelter Island (see Thursday's post about Trader Mort's for a description of Shelter Island).

The Bali Hai, a fifty four year old Polynesian-themed restaurant of circular shape with an infamous and iconic crowned head of a "Goof" atop its roof, provided an excellent setting for the show. A good number of Tiki fans made it out to the event, which featured live music by Hapa Haole band, the Smokin' Menehunes. Many of the exhibiting artist were also on hand, coming from as far away as Hawaii (Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker, Thor and Chongolio), Georgia (Derek Yaniger), Florida (Hassan Patterson) and England (Tiki Racer). A number of the artists in attendance had participated in my Halloween Skull Mask Project. It was awesome to have 'em all in one room and to shake their hands. Equally awesome was finally meeting Tiki Magazine's publisher Nick Camara and senior editor Eileen Silva, both whom I've worked closely with as TM's marketing director but had yet to actually meet in person. The presence of so many enthusiastic and talented people created a palpable buzz. It was a real fun night filled with aloha.

Click here to view my Flickr set of photos of the Bali Hai and be sure to read more about the "Tiki Island at the Bali Hai" art show in the Spring '08 issue of Tiki Magazine.

Photography by Chris Osburn © 2007

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