The Greatest Show on Earth

Today, I will begin by offending everyone who is offended easily. Last week, we took our good friend Marian to Disneyland. It was her first visit, and she decided she loved the Enchanted Tiki Room. The Tiki Room in Disneyland is still the original show from 1963. Contrary to some who believe everything should be re-imagined and made “hip,” the Tiki Room is still a favorite, even without new rap songs thrown in to be “now.” I love the disparate design of the Tiki Room. It’s a thousand tiny elements all thrown together. Every surface is detailed and alive. The design is like a wonderful scattering of different jewels.

Now for the offensive part: if you are a “serious” art critic who believes that the Tiki Room is man’s version of hell on earth, read no further. I am now going to relate Alexander Calder’s Circus to the Tiki Room. You may now be screaming, “For the love of God, why? Why?” Calder’s Circus was created from 1926-1931. The Tiki Room, for me, is an extension of Calder’s creation.

The Calder Circus is an incredible mix of multiple tiny objects that animate. There is no single large object. And, like the Tiki Room, the inanimate objects are anthropomorphized to entertain us. Whether it is a piece of fabric and wire, or tropical birds and tiki totems, both creations ask us to make the leap and believe they are alive. They both share a trait I value, the ability to create work that is playful and without pretension.