Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hawaiian Menu Art ~ #1 In A Series



A painter and printmaker, artist John Melville Kelly was born in Oakland, California in 1879. He moved to Hawaii in 1923, expecting to stay a year, creating images to promote tourism. He and his sculptor wife were enchanted by Oahu and ended up settling there. Seven images he created were eventually used as menu covers for the famous Royal Hawaiian Hotel. One model, Marion, was his favorite and appears in a number of them.

The first, shown above, is called "Seated Hula Dancer". That's a feathered gourd she's holding, made of a hollowed out gourd filled with seeds, topped with feathers and shaken rhythmically two at a time during the dance. The dancer is wearing a traditional grass skirt and is seated next to a bird of paradise flowering shrub.

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