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Tiki Heroes & Carvers of Yore
TravelingJones
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Mar 11, 2006
Posts: 897
From: Eastern Shores of Western Civilization
Posted: 2007-08-03 10:09 am   Permalink

SsweeetT Pappy...keep'em coming!

sniff...sniff...hhhmmm, me sense bigbrotiki nearby...?
_________________
Viva Kate!

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pappythesailor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2007-08-03 6:14 pm   Permalink

Who's seen the work of James B. Casey of California at Pacific Ocean Park or one of Steve Crane's restaurants?

(from the Helena Independent Record 15 July 1960)





CASEY AT THE AX


Sculptor Finds Outlet
in Amusement Park
OIDESHOW sculptor James B. Casey is a
modern Paul Bunyan of the art world
whose creative works are much in evidence
at Pacific Ocean park in Los Angeles.
Mr. Casey lives and works there in an
area where the South Sea Islands, an Alaskan
village, and a visit to the old West are
only minutes apart. His unique statuary is
almost everywhere on display. Massive
totem poles, ornate wooden heads and
elaborate columns that the husky six-footer
carved are located throughout the park.
Made from giant redwood logs, the statuary
is hand-carved by Casey, whose principal
tool is a double-edged woodsman's ax.
Many of the grotesque wooden heads that
Casey carved are used as targets by ball
throwers.
A former musician and television producer-
director, Mr. Casey finds that creating
with his hands is a far more lucrative
and self-satisfying occupation. As an artist
he is not the least bit embarrassed to
have his work displayed in a carnival-like
setting. The only problem with an outdoor
exhibition, Casey finds, is the great amount
o£ maintenance needed to keep the statuary
in good condition. Besides supplying exotic
art for amusement parks, Casey does a
large business creating unusual works of
art for members of the film colony. "South
Sea Island statuary seems to be the favorite
at the moment," says the sideshow sculptor.


 
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pappythesailor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2007-08-03 6:28 pm   Permalink

Surely an artiste like Mr. E. C. "Buz" Galas deserves not to be forgotten.

(from the Modesto Bee and News Herald 11 July 1962)



Modesto Artist's Motto is: Art For The Love Of Art

E. C. (Buz) Galas,
carves tiki gods in his
spare time.
He also paints in oils, water
colors and caseins, experiments
with glazes and
casts molds in his Chehalem
Drive home. In the daytime
he is an art director of a local
firm.
His tremendous affinity to
art is reflected in the interiors
of the Galas home
where a mosaic table, intricate
wood statues and arresting
canvases are in evidence.
Galas discussed his most
recent endeavor—tiki carving—
Saturday while carving
a palm log in his patio. He
also was baby sitting with
his four youngsters.
From Oakdale
A native of Oakdale, Galas
was graduated from Modesto
High School and attended
the California College of
Arts in Oakland. Several
of his commercial paintings
were distributed nationally
during his tenure as art
directoi of a local winery.
Galas says he became interested
about one year ago
in carving the figures whose
origins are in Polynesian
mythology. He now is working
on his fourth tiki.
"In comparison to other
media, the cost is minute
for the necessary materials,"
he said. "I've picked up tools
such as chisel, draw knife
and mallet in surplus stores
or second hand shops.
"Whenever we're on family
outings in the country I
keep on the lookout for in-
teresting wood. if the wood
is gnarled or tracked it gives
the finished piece more character.
I've obtained some excellent
pieces when trees
were being chopped down by
the city."
Galas spent six weeks on
his first attempt at the tiki
trade—a six foot tall, nude
Polynesian goddess crowned
by an ornate headpiece.
"When she was finished.
I put her in the front yard."
he continued. "The neighbors
never said a word, but she
did attract a lot of stares.
Traffic in front of our place
was fierce for a while."
Towering Tiki
A few weeks ago the towering
tiki mysteriously dis-
appeared. Despite the detailed
description Galas provided
the police the tiki ,
has not been recovered.
How does tiki carving
compare with other media
with which he has worked?
"I enjoy creating in three
dimensions," he replied. "It
suits a part of my personality
nothing else does. I consider
the tiki phase a stage
in my personal development.
Accidental Art
"When a different subject
catches my interest, I'll enter
a new area of exploration.
But I go back to oils every
time I tire of a particular approach.
"I'm always experimenting
with materials. At my office,
for instance, I'm working on
a 4 by 8 foot collage com-
posed primarily of blotters
It came, about when the
mimeograph machine was being
cleaned. I noticed the
blotters on the rollers had
turned out some interesting
patterns. You might term it
accidental art."
What techniques does he
employ in carving tikis?
"Authenticity is the least
important factor to me. I
use my imagination in creating
the figure I'm going to
carve. I sketch it on paper—
or sometimes draw the pat-
tern right on the palm log.
"Then I start chopping. If
I get bored I may even throw
the hatchet." he smiled.
Galas never has exhibited
his works. He is not affiliated
with any art organization.
He merely lives for art.


 
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Paipo
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 22, 2006
Posts: 1886
From: Aotearoa / NZ
Posted: 2007-08-03 6:36 pm   Permalink

This is great stuff - a bit of a shame the pics are so grainy but that's to be expected. Here's hoping a few urban archaeologists out there can follow up some of these leads.
I just can't get enough pics of classic era carvings. I love the low-tech approach these guys took, just hacking into logs or telephone poles with anything that had an edge. It brings to mind the Eli Hedley pic (in the BoT I think) where he is carving the Stardust moai with a real adze.
It's interesting to think that in 50 years time people may be posting articles on BenZart or Crazy Al for the great "Tiki Revival" of 2060....

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tikicleen
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 11, 2003
Posts: 329
From: ripon: almond capital yet no orgeat
Posted: 2007-08-03 6:44 pm   Permalink

how did you ever find the photo/article on the hobby tiki artist in modesto? wow!

looks like i have a new mission. chehalem drive is directly across the street from the high school i worked at last school year. i doubt good ol' buz still lives there, and i realize his tiki was stolen out of his front yard in '62, but it's still worth a looksee.

thanks pappy!
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pappythesailor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2007-08-05 09:09 am   Permalink

I admit, Willis Harman may not be a tiki hero of yore but he sold cool tikis.

(from the Long Beach Indepndent Press Telegram 5 May 1963)



TIKIS ARE IN TOWN

VISITORS to 3636 E. Ana-
heim St. often stop and
rub their eyes. They think for
a minute they have been
transported to Samoa, Easter
Island or Hawaii.
In a tropical setting stand
tiki gods, the same in appear-
ance as those seen in the
South Pacific. The tikis range
from 3 to 15 feet high, carved
with chisel, wood mallet and
hatchet by native Hawaiian
artists.
"Tikis date back to ancient
days in the islands." explains
Willis Harman of the East
Anaheim St reel address.
"Each has an important meaning
to the Polynesian people.
For instance, before South
Seas pearl divers proceed to
the oyster beds, they pray to
the shark god for protection
against sharks."
THE TIKIS exhibited here
were carved from Southern
California logs, many of them
upwards of 125 years old.The
palm log can not be carved
until it has seasoned at least
a quarter of a century, according
to Harman otherwise
it would crack and distort
the design.
The tikis are made without
a sketch or a mark on the
log.
Because of increased travel
in the South Pacific since the
war, and the rapidly increasing
number of swimming
pools, Polynesian symbols
such as tikis are in great demand,
according to Harman.
He his received orders from
the Ea$t Coast from persons
who returned from South Seas
tours and decided they would
like tikis to bring back memories
of their trip.


 
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pappythesailor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2007-08-05 09:15 am   Permalink

Here's Barney West hard at work. California did seem to have the market cornered on Tiki then as now. *sigh*

(from the News Tribune, Pierce, Fla., 17 February 1964)



MELANESIAN MARK -
Barney West, former merchant mariner, paints a reproduction
of Tiki, a Melaneisean God, carved out of redwood at his
Sausalito, Calif., home.


 
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pappythesailor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2007-08-05 09:20 am   Permalink

Here's future Tiki Hero, Leroy Schmaltz (of OCeanic Arts fame) and friends winning an award for decorating or something...

(from the Pasadena Independent 15 April 1960)



Bullock's Contest
Winners Announced
Winners of the annual student
decorating contest sponsored
by Bullock's Pasadena
were announced yesterday.
They are Richard Gilford,
LeRoy Schmaltz and Don Skinner,
students of Los Angeles
State College.
Their entry depicted a Hi-Fi
room featuring fashion colors
of blue and white.
They received the first prize
award of $150.
Winners were selected by the
several thousand shoppers to
Bullock's the past week, who
judged the 14 entries. There
were 34 students from seven
Southern California colleges
participating in the event...


 
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pappythesailor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2007-08-05 09:31 am   Permalink

California didn't have every tiki carver. Here's SSgt. John Rook from Tenn.

(from the Playground Daily News, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., 28 March 1967)





Carving Polynesian Tiki Gods Is Unusual Hobby For Sergeant

By Cherrie Hopkins
DAILY NEWS STAFF
Carving Polynesian Tiki gods
has been the hobby of Staff Sergeant
John Rook, an ROTC ins
t r u c t o r at East Tennessee
State University for the past
year and a half.
The Tiki gods are actually the
embodiment of the male principle
in Polynesian mythology often
depicted as the first man
or superhuman creator of mankind.
Although the Tikis are
called gods, they were not actually
worshipped as idols by the
ancient Polynesians.
Rook, who lived in Fort Walton
Beach before entering the
US Army seven years ago,
learned to carve the gods from
a neighbor in Johnson City,
Tenn. After watching the neighbor
carve a god, Rook set about
to do it for himself. He uses
no design or pattern, but just
carves the gods according to
his mood.
The Rook family has been visiting
the C.W. Pharrs, parents
of his wife Sharon, for a few
weeks. They will be in the Playground
Area until Mar. 31 at
which time they will return to
Tennessee.
The first step in carving a
the felling of a tree. Rook gets
permission from nearby farmers
to cut one of the trees. Many
people have bartered logs for
a Tiki god with the sergeant.
He has made most of his statues
from pine, but now has decided
to use poplar wood whenever
he can get it.
After cleaning the log of bark,
he uses wood chisels to fashion
the features of the gods. In the
year and a half, he estimated
that he has made 30 or 40 of
the gods which vary in size
from a foot tall to about five
feet tall. One of his carvings
is made up of two tiki gods,
one on top of the other, similar
to a totem pole.
The facial features express
the mood of the carver, and
he said that he never knows
exactly how one will look until
he has finished it. The position
of the hands and legs is more
or less the same in all the gods.
After he has carved the Tikis,
he finishes them in various
ways. His favorite finish is a
walnut stain, which gives a
primitive look to the hand-hewn
gods. A green antique kit-provided
an unusual finish for one
of the gods, and his wife is
encouraging him to finish more
of the gods with the antique
kits in various colors. Some people
have asked Rook to carve
the gods and deliver them unfinished,
so that they may complete
the job.
Rook has shown the gods in
art shows, and his work is on
display at the ETSU art museum.
According to the sergeant,
the interest in art in his home
area is great, and the Tiki gods
are a rising interest there. One
woman has asked that he carve
a tiki god of her for a special
purpose — she wants to put her
wig on it
"The thing about these gods
is that they grow on you," the
sergeant said. "I try to give
each a personality, and they are
all different. In fact, I have one
that looks positively wicked."
It takes approximately four
or five hours steady carving to
complete a small god. He doesn't
sand the god, because this
would tone down the rough effect
The only smoothing work
he does is around the head area.
Rook t r i e d varnishing the
gods with clear varnish, but this
didn't work as well as a stain or
a paint. He likes to carve the
gods from fresh, green wood.
When they begin to dry, after
the carving is completed, the
wood cracks, giving the god the
look of antiquity
"I didn't have any trouble in
catching on to the technique of
carving the Tikis," Rook said,
"but it surely causes a lot of
blisters. I have cut myself at
least once for every god I have
carved."
Rook feels that Tiki carving
is definitely a man's hobby, because
of the strength necessary
in pounding and chiseling the
wood.
At the present time he uses
his basement to carve the gods.
His wife is almost as enthusiastic
about his new hobby as he
is. Her only gripe is that she
never has any for herself: people
see them, admire them, and
they are gone. And so goes the
adage about the woodcutter's
wife.



 
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pappythesailor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2007-08-05 09:34 am   Permalink

I think I got a couple more Eli Hedley stories, then I'm dry. Please feel free to add your own heroes. Somebody write a newspaper story about Benzart!

 
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Tiki Kaimuki
Grand Member (4 years)  

Joined: Sep 25, 2006
Posts: 821
From: OAKLAND, baby
Posted: 2007-08-05 12:11 pm   Permalink

Thanks for passing on this information to all of us, Pappy. I agree, a full newspaper article on Benzart would seem in order.
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pappythesailor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2007-08-06 5:29 pm   Permalink

Here's the last of 'em. Anybody seen "Milano"? He must have been huge to only have one name. Like Charro or Ann-Margaret.

(from the Reno Evening Gazette 26 August 1958)



MILANO, a native of the South Pacific, is shown hand carving "tikis" or native gods as dec-
orative pieces for Dick Graves' new south sea restaurant opening in Sparks in November. The
new restaurant is to be called 'Trader Dick's" and will be located at the site o£ the old Sparks
Nugget. Graves, owner of the Nugget casino, s aid that this fifth food operation (the other
four are: Round House, Golden Rooster Room, Coffee Shop and Prime Rib Room) will feature
several dining rooms, bars and slot machine areas and a very unusual oriental-type buffet.
Remodeling costs are estimated at $100,000. Frank Green of Reno is the architect for the
project and Eli Hedley, owner of three Disneyland shops, is the decorator and designer.


 
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pappythesailor
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2007-08-06 5:45 pm   Permalink

More about Eli Hedley and some about Russell Kellmer Sorry about the pics. They couldn't be much worse. I even tried to clean them up a little.

(from the Long Beach Independent Press Telegram 22 January 1961)





Miday City's Tribe of Gods
By Dick Bach

A SET of grotesque black
shadows flick out and lie
twisted across your path as
you drive north on State
Hwy. 39 and enter the little
town of Midway City.
Tracing the source of the
shadows the traveler is startled
to come face to face with
the high carved figures of a
dozen tiki—stone and wooden
images of South Pacific gods.
This is the carving ground
of Weldon Eli Hedley. who
also owns and manages the
Island Trade Store in Walt
Disney's Adventureland.
FROM THIS BIRTHPLACE
of gods have come some 300
tiki who in the past 10 years
have traveled to rule new
kingdoms throughout the
United States.
Medley's tiki range from a
few inches high to 15 feet
tall and weigh from one
pound to 13,000 pounds.
Hedley became fascinated
by the primitive beauty of
these gods more than 10
years ago. He began by
sketching tiki from photographs
and models in museums.
When he had the feel
of their design and structure,
he chalked out designs on
wood and began carving. But,
except for some stone replicas,
of Easter Island's great
stone faces. Medley's tikis are
not exact copies of any other
gods in this world—though
they could be set in a crowd
of 1000 - year - old brethren
without being recognized as
intruders.
HEDLEY WASN'T exactly
deluged with orders when he
began carving images in California
palm trunks 10 years
ago. The first tropical restaurant
owner he approached
with one of his craggy idols
said, "They're wonderful. What
are they good for?"
Hedley took a different
tack to get his idols recognition.
He supplied movie studios
with sea-drifted beachcomb
for island sagas and won a
reputation as a tropical designer.
He was called upon to
arrange society parties and
yacht club luaus. He'd fit a
tiki into the decorations and
found it was sold before the
party was over.
A tiki by your swimming
pool was a novelty at first,
then an expected thing. Tiki
now are standard accessories
for swimming pools.
TODAY, WITH Eli handling
the business end, the
art of tikl-oarving has passed
on to Russell Kellmer, who
without training gives evidence
that in some other life
he was a chief carver of tiki.
With a crude-looking adze,
the only tool used on the
wood until the final stages of
carving, Kellmer works like a
man possessed, stopping only
for a second every 10 or 15
minutes to rest his working
arm. After four hours of almost
constant chopping, the
tiki lies rough-hewn on the
ground.
A heavy wood-chisel runs
over the form of the god,
smoothing and refining the
heavier strokes of the adze.
Finally, an electric disc sander
touches it to coarse fibery
smoothness 'and rounds the
hard-cut corners. A stiff
brush and a stream of icy
water mark the last minutes
that the god will ever spend
on his back on the ground.
The hands that shaped the
tiki lift him to a standing
position, and he quickly assumes
the still power and..."
(Sorry, the story continues on page 14 but I misplaced it somewhere. Dang!)




 
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Tiki Kaimuki
Grand Member (4 years)  

Joined: Sep 25, 2006
Posts: 821
From: OAKLAND, baby
Posted: 2007-08-06 5:49 pm   Permalink

I wonder if "Milano" was actually Milan Guanko?

 
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Polynesiac
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 29, 2004
Posts: 2079
From: San Pedro, CA
Posted: 2007-08-06 5:59 pm   Permalink

Great posts pappy!!! I love the stories! (ya got any on Trader Luke from 'Pedro?)

That "Milano" guy looks a little like Milan Guanko and he did the carvings for trader dick's, so I would guess that that is him!

Here's a link to a review of Trader Dicks:
http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=3100&forum=1&hilite=trader%20dicks

Keep 'em coming pappy!!!!
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