If you are into living la vida Tiki, Oceanic Arts is a place that should be on your travel agenda. They are the premier purveyor of Polynesian paraphernalia (say that 5 times fast), and have been since their inception in 1956. They have outfitted many amazing mid-century and contemporary Tiki locations, including the Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World, Trader Vic’s, Don the Beachcomber, and the Mai-Kai. During my last trip to Long Beach, my gal pal Summer and I hopped in the car and took a little trip to check it out. It being our first time, we were naturally pretty pumped!
When you first walk in, it’s incredibly overwhelming. Your eyes dance from one amazing piece of art to another, and you haven’t even made it past the entrance! There are Tikis, lamps, thatch, masks, and damn near anything you could think of that could go into a Tiki bar or a legit backyard luau. A closer look uncovered such things as puffer fish lamps (Sorry, PETA), fish floats, beautifully carved Tikis of all sizes representing various Polynesian islands, signage, wall art, masks out the wazoo, and even smaller accents such as Tiki mugs and other bar needs, leis, hats, jewelry…if you’ve seen it in a Tiki bar, they have it!
It took me several trips around the store and through all the aisles to take it all in. One really cool thing I noticed was that for certain larger masks, they sell them without any staining, with staining, and some completely painted and ready to hang. Be sure to walk along the right hand side of the store, so you can see the glass curios full of awesome mugs, and bar glassware from long-gone Tiki palaces. The entire place is a feast for the eyes.
One of the things I most hoped to accomplish was to meet the two men behind Oceanic Arts – Leroy Schmaltz, and Bob Van Oosting. Their road to creating the creme de la creme of Tiki took them all over the Pacific. This hands-on immersion is what has allowed them to create that sense of authenticity that is so important to Polynesian art. Lucky for Summer and I, both of them were there for us to meet, which was absolutely thrilling. I got to express my appreciation to them for the amazing contributions they’ve made to Tiki. They were so gracious, and even took an awesome photo with us.
The fact that their work is in so many places across the globe speaks to the quality and authenticity that Leroy and Bob put into their art. It truly is a one-stop-shop for everything you could want, whether you’re starting your own home Tiki bar, or opening up a Tiki bar in your city. I regret I was not able to walk out with an armload of goodies, but I only had so much room in my luggage! However, I was happy to finally visit what I consider to be a gem in the world of Tiki. I hope Oceanic Arts continues their awesome tradition well into the future. What they do is so special and unique, and we are fortunate to have them!
Getting the itch to visit?
12414 Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90602