The Party Crashers

The early days of Shag produced paintings that quickly defined his tiki-influenced style and are credited at beginning a very eclectic (and in some cases a very eccentric) fan base. With his first successful 1998 exhibit of 20 original paintings at La Luz Jesus Gallery under his belt, Shag was challenged with bringing something a little different for his second solo exhibit and his second show at La Luz the following year. While the influence of tiki was prominent in several of the paintings, this time Shag’s 20 originals largely featured villains and deviants, and otherworldly misfits, headhunters and ghosts.

The Party Crashers was the first series where Shag introduced a well-known euphemism for drunken hallucinations, the pink elephant, in Return of the Pink Elephant. (An interesting side note for those that would like to know the background to pink elephants – the first recorded use of the term was in 1913 by the author Jack London. It was then brought to mainstream media in Walt Disney’s 1941 classic Dumbo in a sequence of animation and song “pink elephants on parade.”) The Party Crashers was also one of the first series to introduce familiar celebrity characters into the scenes, like Sammy Davis, Jr. in Mob Ties. It also set the tone for bringing cohesiveness in a themed show, where most of the works hosted actual party crashers, like drunks, four-eyed go-go beatniks and mobsters. 

 

 

In my favorite and largest painting from the series, The Uninvited Guests, Shag is able to define the series, both in the painting’s title and physical work. By definition, only an uninvited guest would actually be able to crash a party. And there are several uninvited guests within this work that have earned the ranks of “Party Crasher”. There’s a hunchback, cocktail in hand, off in the corner, not yet socialized for hip parties; A Dr. Jekyll-like guest, spiking the drinks; And an ogre-like ghoul, moving in on two bikini-clad party guests, who gesture to the determined uninvited, in no uncertain manor, to not even think about it.

It’s not entirely impossible to obtain an older classic painting, like the ones from this exhibition. In fact, a handful of Shag’s works from The Party Crashers have appeared on the resell market (and have shown quite an appreciation), Drunken Waiter, The Pimp, The Salesman, The Perils of Trying Too Hard, and The Uninvited Guests.

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