Portraits of Paradise / by 4Most Gallery

Contributing artists: Ryan Schulz, Claire Lenahan, Jacque Adams, and Erin Holmes

Portraits of Paradise examined ceramic tiki drinkware as part of the escapism of contemporary cocktail culture. The tiki bar, (first appearing in the early 1930s) was built on Don the Beachcomber’s conceptual promise: “If you can’t get to paradise, I’ll bring paradise to you”. The show celebrated ceramic drinkware shedding its old vernacular of faux-Ku effigies and objectified “hula girls” for more retro, nostalgic and pop centric icons of contemporary American escapism. This new generation of tiki mugs are sculpted from the individual artist’s language of self-regulation harkening back to childhood familiars, immersive media, or content fandom that help smooth the edges off a constantly volatile, political, and economic climate. It might not bring the same paradise promised by the forefathers of tiki culture, but contemporary drinkware still delivers a means of escape through the timeless consumption of cocktails.