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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki In Search of Frank Bowers...
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In Search of Frank Bowers...
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 3178
From: Las Vegas, NV
Posted: 2013-03-12 01:30 am   Permalink

On 2009-10-02 11:38, JOHN-O wrote:
Here's some more background on Frank Bowers that I was able to dig up.

In an earlier post, I noted there were 1930's-era Bowers murals at South Gate City Hall (8650 California Ave). I'm assuming they're still there, I'll need to pay a visit. I noticed that works of this era were done in conjunction with an Arthur Prunier.


What a range of work !! You can find Bowers in city government offices and corporate boardrooms as well as the diviest of LA dive bars.

I am adding the pictures from Grconnect because it looks like that site may be dead.

Location: South Gate City Hall
Address: 8650 California Ave. (near Firestone Blvd.)
Artist: Frank Bowers, Arthur Prunier
Sponsor: Federal Art Project
Keywords: interior, community, mural
Area: Vernon to Compton
I'm the most thirstiesterest of all!
TRADER VIC'S, Vintage, Vegas & more on EBAY 1957SPUTNIK
If you like it, it is ZAZZ! If you don't it is RAZZ!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11446
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2013-03-12 07:39 am   Permalink

Bruce - Ketchikan, grave site, etc...it's all been covered in the previous pages here, babe.

I would love to find some more examples of his story board artist work for the studios. before he went all muralist.

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Site Administrator

Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 3310
From: Redondo Beach, CA
Posted: 2013-04-08 5:26 pm   Permalink

Last month I was contacted by someone named Terri and she said she may have located a rather large Frank Bowers mural. She found Tiki Central and contacted me to see if I could help identify it. I asked her to please send me some photos. In the meantime I figured she may have already seen the In Search of Frank Bowers thread but I specifically pointed out to her a postcard that Dustycajun posted of Vivian Laird's Restaurant and Jungle Room:

Close up of the mural:

She replied with the following:
"Break out the cocktails because we have something to celebrate! It's undoubtedly a match."

Shortly after, I received some photos of it. This mural is about six feet tall and thirty feet long and is certainly not the easiest thing to photograph. Here are the photos from left to right, section by section.

I asked Terri how she managed to find this thing. She said a good friend of hers was hired to do some repair work and clean-up at a residence in the Palm Springs area. In return he was allowed to keep the mural, which apparently was all rolled up, among several rolls of upholstery fabric. He brought it over to her and they soon discovered that it was signed by Frank Bowers. After a little investigative search on the internet they found Tiki Central and contacted me.

Terri tells me,
It has been appraised and it is for sale, the price negotiable. It is in the Palm Springs, CA area. I'm still trying to find out how it got from Vivian Lairds to a house in Palm Springs. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in purchasing this monster mural (6ft x 30ft), please let me know. Thanks so much!


Well there you have it. If anyone here is interested in possibly purchasing this historic Frank Bowers mural please PM me and I'll forward your contact information to Terri.



Edited to lock images in a vertical format.

[ This Message was edited by: Hakalugi 2013-04-09 12:44 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4730
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2013-04-08 9:53 pm   Permalink

As the late Huell Howser would have said "That's Amazing!" One of the reasons that Tiki Central is so great, that finds like these come to light through the internet search button.

Thanks for posting Haka. So, whose gonna step up and buy that beauty?


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Sabu The Coconut Boy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2799
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2013-04-08 10:43 pm   Permalink

To see actual photos that iconic Vivian Lairds mural in color is truly a feast for the eyes! Thanks for posting these, Haka. I hope someone who owns an operational bar can purchase this mural and display it. I'd love to visit it.


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Bruddah Bear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 07, 2011
Posts: 629
From: Los Angeles Basin, Westside
Posted: 2013-04-09 12:53 am   Permalink

Huzzah! Another lost work of art is rescued from neglect and potential destruction by someone's keen eye, intuition, and curiosity.

Well done.

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Hale Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 19, 2004
Posts: 1799
From: Pittsburgh
Posted: 2013-04-09 04:57 am   Permalink

Now for a tikiphile to rescue it! (despite it not being tiki, I just trust them the most to do it justice)

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11446
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2013-04-09 07:33 am   Permalink


On 2013-04-09 00:53, Bruddah Bear wrote:

Huzzah! Another lost work of art is rescued from neglect and potential destruction by someone's keen eye, intuition, and curiosity.

Well done.

...and it has surfaced here thanks to the combined efforts of several dedicated TC urban archeologists whose findings have created the best web resource on the artist here.

Indeed a great discovery!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2717
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2013-04-25 9:44 pm   Permalink

Hey the Hard Hat Lounge website has a link to this TC thread !!

I'm still floored by mrsmiley's fantastic discovery.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2717
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2013-08-04 10:32 pm   Permalink

This thread sharing Frank Bowers' contributions to Polynesian Pop and other mid-century pop cultural style has been a series of great coincidences. It began with some non-Tiki related content that I posted (Embers Lounge), which lead the Bigbro to identify Frank Bowers as the artist behind the iconic Polynesian murals at the Pre-Tiki Zamboanga nightclub and Leilani Hut...

Running with this information, I was able to identify two other locations in Los Angeles (the Focsle and Bucaneer) that also had murals by Bowers.

Mr Smiley, inspired by these findings, decided to visit a local Las Vegas dive bar (Hard Hat Lounge) which also had a cool mural that he remembered. That mural turned out to be a Bowers as well !! His was a net new discovery.

This thread then started to come up in internet searches for anyone trying to identify Frank Bowers. From that, many other discovered works were shared here, in particular the mural from Vivian Laird's Jungle Room that Dustycajun had previously identified as the location of a potential Bowers.

Recently another great coincidence occurred which lead to the acquisition of two Bowers paintings by Tiki Centralites. This is really the Bigbro's story, but as he is traveling to Germany again for business, he asked me to share it...

It all began with Naomi (Mrs. Bigbro) having a brief employment at a high-end mid-century vintage store in Los Angeles. Naomi had posted some of store's Poly Pop wares on her Facebook page, which in turn the Bigbro (while engaged in film production in Germany) recognized as potential Bowers works.

The two paintings in question obviously required a greater degree of scrutiny, but if the Bigbro (who was already known to the owner as a "Tiki authority") were to visit the store, this might raise suspicion on the paintings' potential higher value (and at this point Naomi no longer worked there). Instead the Bigro dispatched one of his Tiki operatives, Bora Boris who is experienced in such clandestine tradecraft. Here's Boris on the right, undercover as Morocco Mole...

Taking additional photographs with a small camera housed in his fez, the images were transmitted back to the Bigbro for his further analysis. Even though the two paintings lacked visible signatures, the Bigbro's trained eye conclusively identified them to be the work of Frank Bowers. The lack of signatures turned out to be a blessing, as the savy owner could have easily researched their pedigree via Google search, ironically using the very content on this thread.

Boris was then instructed to procure one of the paintings. It was this portrait that the Bigbro selected as his very own "Kona Lisa"...

This left the second painting remaining, which the Bigbro generously informed several of us here on TC of its existence. I immediately jumped on that opportunity. To avoid any suspicion around the second painting being purchased so soon after the first, I also assumed a false identity... Mr. Moto, international playboy and collector of rare Hula Girl lamps...

When I inquired about such lamps, the owner pointed me to a pair which he said were recently rented out for an episode of "Mad Men". Asking about the price, he quoted almost $1000. I asked "for the pair?" He replied "no, that's for each." (!!)

Stating that I really wasn't interested in those particular lamps, I casually inquired about any other Hawaiiana in the store. The owner smiled and pointed me upstairs where the real treasure lay. Walking upstairs I spotted the painting exacly where Boris said it would be, partially hidden behind a large foam Tiki. Feeling a little light headed in encounterng an "unidentified" Bowers in the wild, I cooly asked the owner as to its background. He replied "Well I might have known 20 years ago when I first acquired the painting, but after all this time I've forgotten."

I tried to negotiate the price down but he stood firm on the price. While the price might have been steep for an anonymous vintage painting, I considered it a great bargain for a Bowers (and for a pair of nude wahines no less).

The deal being consumated, that makes it two Polynesian Exotica-style Bowers in the possession of the Tiki Central family.

Here's my painting (the GROG-commissioned "Unholy Bob" giving it scale)...

So is this all mere coincidence, or is it Tiki fate ??

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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 7048
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2013-08-04 11:00 pm   Permalink

Congrats John on your patron of the arts status!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 03, 2009
Posts: 480
From: Whittier, CA
Posted: 2013-08-05 12:28 am   Permalink

Nice story John-O. You made me feel like I there. Congrats to you and Sven for your great purchases. Bowers is on my bucket list to add to my humble collection although it will probably always stay on the list. Maybe next time Rosemarie and I are in Santa Monica we can stop by and see your find in person. I promise not to drool on it.


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Grand Member (5 years)  

Joined: Sep 20, 2009
Posts: 688
From: Flagler Beach, FL
Posted: 2013-08-05 03:01 am   Permalink

Well played, Mr. Moto!!!

Great story, John-O.


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 9141
From: Anaheim,Ca.
Posted: 2013-08-05 07:41 am   Permalink

Very Cool, congrats!

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Limbo Lizard
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 24, 2006
Posts: 750
From: Aboard the 'Leaky Tiki', Dallas
Posted: 2013-08-05 09:28 am   Permalink

Hard to tell for sure, but it looks like the two paintings have the same frame style. I theorize that the paintings were once part of a larger mural, but someone cut up and framed the more marketable portions. (That would explain the absence of a Bowers signature.) These two may then have passed through several hands, before the current seller acquired them - leading to loss of information about the source, along the way.

Maybe JOHN-O or BigBro can examine whether the painting goes to the very edges of the canvas, including the part that wraps around the canvas frame. If so, that would be a strong indication that they were cut from a larger work.

"The rum's the thing..."

[ This Message was edited by: Limbo Lizard 2013-08-05 09:32 ]

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