If tiki were to adopt official colors, I’d nominate Phthalo blue and Phthalo green and include every luxurious and exotic shade in between.
Dawn is the undefeated champion of Phthalo colors. She has spent her career crafting alluring works of art using the juicy watercolor and acrylic tints of copper phthalocyanine (CuPc). Take one look at her Moodxotica paintings, and you’ll fall deep into a pool of intense blues and greens surrounded by a tropical paradise. Or, wrap yourself in one of Sophista-tiki’s designed fabrics or aloha shirts, and you’ll feel immediately at peace in any mid-mod affair. With degrees in color theory and graphic design (pre-computers) as well as a masters in museum studies, she is a hue maven.
“I like Phthalo colors because all other blue and green pigments have white in them. Phthalo colors are really pure. You get so much depth and translucence. I want to live in the worlds they create.” When another artist scolded her, telling her she’d never be able to paint for long periods of time using just these blues and greens, Dawn’s response was “watch me!”
Dawn, like many of us, was taught early on to be afraid of intense color. Growing up in a world of beige, she remembers people commenting on her preference for colorful clothing. “Is it a special occasion?” “You’re wearing something loud!” “Are you going to a party?” Good thing she conquered that fear. Today, she continues to go bolder and bolder with color. It’s highly likely you’ll find her looking at paint chips for pure delight.
When Dawn invited me to visit the Bamboo Grove at Westwood, I knew the visit would color me tiki. It’s not one or two rooms, it’s a polychromatic paradise. Built in 1954, the Bamboo Grove feels 70s groovy. The look is inspired by her teenage years, when she was surrounded by art nouveaux mixed with a hippie vibe. The Bamboo Grove’s mid-century modern furnishings, Sophista-tiki shag rugs, Moodxotica paintings, vintage vinyl, and hand-carved tikis harmoniously come together in every room in the house. Dawn has done all the interior design and renovation work herself. She knows how to restore antiques. She’s not afraid to use her construction skills to fix what needs to be repaired. She grew up in Montana where her parents were always fixing something around the house. And, as a woman who was into tiki even before the renaissance of the 90s, she knows a thing or two about the tiki life.
Her current project? Although there’s always twenty or more art projects happening simultaneously in her home studio, Dawn and her kitties revealed a newly remodeled downstairs apartment decorated in a chinoiserie-tiki style. The contrast of the Chinese red lamp shades mixed with the black glossy embellishments and beautiful blues are sumptuous. The quite familiar painting of Monika Sing-Lee served as an anchor to the room.
That’s when it struck me. Dawn’s mastery of color could make even Tretchikoff’s Green Lady blush with envy.