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Tiki Central Forums » » General Tiki » » Witco? More like "...."
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Witco? More like "...."
TikiTacky
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 978
From: Colorado
Posted: 2013-08-20 1:32 pm   Permalink

I'll probably get empty LH 151 bottles thrown at my head for saying this, but I just don't understand Witco. I realize there's a level of tackiness that accompanies so much of the poly-pop lifestyle, but Witco seems to go beyond tacky to just pure ugly. For me, anyway.

Do people like it because it's so ugly, or is there an aesthetic to it I'm not appreciating? I'm honestly curious whether people simply like it for the level of tackiness, or see real beauty there that I'm missing? Please help me understand! No sarcasm, I'm genuinely curious.
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lunavideogames
Grand Member (2 years)  

Joined: May 09, 2012
Posts: 930
From: San Diego
Posted: 2013-08-20 1:45 pm   Permalink

Have you read the Book of Tiki?

Witco was popularized by Elvis with his Jungle Room.

I do agree that it looks tacky for the most part. But I have seen some items that I like.



 
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happy buddha
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 13, 2008
Posts: 190
Posted: 2013-08-20 2:42 pm   Permalink

Sven is probably the best person to answer this question, and I believe he has several times. In fact, he wrote a book about it.

At its best, Witco was the pure embodiment of the essence of mid-century Tiki/Exotica. It was bombast, wild, cartoonish, uninhibited escapism.

Can you imagine walking into JC Penny's today, and browsing a mammoth chainsaw-carved home bar, complete with 3-foot tikis on either end, leopard-skin tikis to sit on, and a matching 7-foot tall carved idol that spits water?? In the sixties you could.

Witco was all about creating an environment. For lots of us the effect still works perfectly.


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11004
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2013-08-20 3:24 pm   Permalink

Well, the question - when it arises - is really only answered by my book "Tiki Modern". If you REALLY want to know, get the book, and read it, too. And then tell me again you still think Witco is just ugly.

Witco to me is about the Picasso quote I open the "Book of Tiki" with (and that never gets mentioned):

“Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.”

Having "good taste" is boring. Good taste does not move anything, it doesn't get a reaction. Just like Hawaiiana, it is a quaint consensus reality that keeps you put, and puts you to sleep. Bad taste gets people riled up, they have a reaction, and in the best case, it opens their minds.

In the case of Witco I hope I demonstrated that behind the ugliest piece of burnt swamp cedar you find in the thrift store, there might be a creative genius whose artistic sensitivity reflected the spirit of whimsy and escapism of a certain time period in America in a unique and singular way - beyond the restrictions of the general consensus of what constitutes "good taste".

But there will always be truth in another saying: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"



 
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Brandomoai
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 321
From: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Posted: 2013-08-20 3:29 pm   Permalink

Hey, it's all about personal taste. The point that can't be argued is Witco's place in the rich history of Tiki style. An understanding and appreciation of that may lead to liking the look of Witco on a personal level. Or it may not. Of course, a lot of Tiki style is considered pretty tacky to the uninitiated. TikiTacky, you've been around for a while now so I'm not going to accuse you of being uninitiated, but what kind of decor do you prefer over Witco? Sure, there's something to be said for more authentic-looking artifacts but Witco just fits in so well with the perfect blend of primitive and modern! If you really don't like it, and the BOT and Tiki Modern can't change your mind, I don't think anyone will!

 
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TikiTacky
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 978
From: Colorado
Posted: 2013-08-20 3:45 pm   Permalink

If I'm understanding correctly, there seems to be an agreement that it is rather ugly, but its ugliness is an integral part of its charm—the embodiment of "tacky." Am I getting this correctly?

I appreciate everyone's input!
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The Granite Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 02, 2005
Posts: 806
From: Nashua, NH
Posted: 2013-08-20 3:59 pm   Permalink

No. You're not.

 
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AdOrAdam
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 16, 2013
Posts: 305
From: Wolverhampton, UK
Posted: 2013-08-20 4:14 pm   Permalink

I saw a post on TC a while ago that said something like 'I saw this item, thought it was ugly & nearly passed it by, thought it might be Witco, brought it, it was, am so pleased to have found it'

This kind of sums Witco up to me - desirable as a tiki collectable even if it's ugly!

Ive not read Book of Tiki yet, most of the Witco I have seen is from TC & tiki bar pictures.

Would I like one of the 60s looking wooden framed pieces at a reasonable price? (eg. the 'world', the 'hillside of moai' or one of the 'ships') Ooh, yes please...

Would I like a Llama bar with leopard skin trim? No, no thank you, not at half that price
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TikiTacky
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 978
From: Colorado
Posted: 2013-08-20 4:45 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-08-20 15:59, The Granite Tiki wrote:
No. You're not.



lunavideogames: "it looks tacky for the most part."

bigbrotiki: "the ugliest piece of burnt swamp cedar" "beyond the restrictions of the general consensus of what constitutes 'good taste'. "

Brandomoai: "a lot of Tiki style is considered pretty tacky to the uninitiated"

Adoradam: "desirable as a tiki collectable even if it's ugly!"

The only one who didn't use the terms tacky or ugly was happybuddha. What am I misunderstanding in assessing that most people are saying it's the ugliness and tackiness of it that gives it it's charm? Those are literally the words people are using!
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lunavideogames
Grand Member (2 years)  

Joined: May 09, 2012
Posts: 930
From: San Diego
Posted: 2013-08-20 5:06 pm   Permalink

Bigbro can explain it better than me, so I gave a short and quick response and I used the term "tacky" as a pun to your name.

I do like some Witco, don't get me wrong. I think AdOrAdam summed it up best as far as my view...

Quote:

On 2013-08-20 16:14, AdOrAdam wrote:
Would I like one of the 60s looking wooden framed pieces at a reasonable price? (eg. the 'world', the 'hillside of moai' or one of the 'ships') Ooh, yes please...

Would I like a Llama bar with leopard skin trim? No, no thank you, not at half that price



Some Witco is really cool, but I think everyone will agree that some is just ugly. That doesn't mean it is all ugly though.



[ This Message was edited by: lunavideogames 2013-08-20 17:08 ]


 
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happy buddha
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 13, 2008
Posts: 190
Posted: 2013-08-20 5:10 pm   Permalink

Well again it's in the eye of the beholder. Witco definitely made some ugly stuff, particularly the conquistador line that's hard to defend. But I wouldn't seek out any of that. The previous poster liked the Outrigger & world map, but didn't like stuff like jungle tikis & llama bars, which is the stuff that intrigues me the most.

In short, the pieces I like, I don't find ugly at all. I think they're genius & quite beautiful.

But then, I'd take most of the Witco catalog over 98% of the newer, 'tiki revival' art.. To each his/her own I guess.


 
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TikiTacky
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 978
From: Colorado
Posted: 2013-08-20 5:26 pm   Permalink

Some of the things I like are tacky. Heck, it's right in my name. So don't get the idea that I'm judging you—well, maybe SOME of you —I just wasn't sure what the appeal was and was honestly trying to see what I was missing. The fact that even people who profess to like Witco are telling me that hey think some of it's ugly lets me know that I wasn't necessarily missing anything, it's just an appreciation I haven't acquired yet. Give it time!

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TikiTacky
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 978
From: Colorado
Posted: 2013-08-20 5:27 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-08-20 17:06, lunavideogames wrote:
Some Witco is really cool, but I think everyone will agree that some is just ugly. That doesn't mean it is all ugly though.



Yeah, but I bet in a room full of Tikiphiles they'll all disagree on which pieces are ugly.
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TikiTacky
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 978
From: Colorado
Posted: 2013-08-20 6:17 pm   Permalink

And, in a case of terminal irony, I just saw the Witco collection someone posted for sale and actually kind of liked it. Sorry for the false alarm people. Get back to your Mai Tais!
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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 923
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2013-08-20 9:34 pm   Permalink

I was given a witco witchdoctor some years back. Wasn't too impressed at first but no way could I even think about ever parting with it.




 
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