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November 21, 2002

Free reads -- black velvet

Friedrich --

Have you stumbled across this? An article in The Age by Pat Sheil about Edgar Leeteg, apparently the father of that great art form, paintings-of-Tahitian-girls-on-black-velvet. You can read it here.

Leeteg was known as "The American Gauguin"

Sample passage:

When he received a letter from a friend living in Tahiti ... he stole a fistful of brushes from work, filled a dozen jars with paint and hightailed it to the south seas ... He eked out a living doing odd jobs. He also started painting the local girls and selling the results to sailors for a few dollars apiece. A self-confessed "gin-soaked dopehead", Leeteg was having a hard time of it.

Link via Out of Lascaux, here.



posted by Michael at November 21, 2002


I've always had a sneaking urge to try painting on black velvet, but I've been afraid I would become addicted and could never go back. I'm also deeply impressed by Aloha Barney. Anyone who can play Over the Waves on a piano accordion, accompanying himself on the mouth organ while also drinking a beer and eating a ham sandwich has indeed arrived at a "a pinnacle of human achievement".

And Hollywood says there are no worthy subjects for buddy pics any more. I say we bring the Ed and Aloha story to the screen. You write the screenplay, and I'll scout locations.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 21, 2002 02:02 PM

You can scout locations, I'll take care of casting. I'm sure the Wife won't mind.

But forgive this terrible lapse in my art education: Aloha Barney? Info, please.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 21, 2002 03:24 PM

According to Pat Sheil, Aloha Barney was the marketing genius behind Leeteg: "After the war, Leeteg's ship came in and on board was "Aloha" Barney, a tattooed, former United States Navy submariner who was to be for Leeteg what Colonel Tom Parker was for Presley - a first-rate hustler. Aloha had a small gallery in Honolulu and travelled around the Pacific buying curios and paintings to sell to tourists."

So, if you do casting and I do locations, what do we do for a script? Ah, the lack of a script doesn't seem to have stopped many other big-budget productions. I say, full steam into the sunset, matey. And don't hold back on the booze.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on November 21, 2002 04:55 PM

Totally unfair! I give you the link and YOU get to post the picture :-) Oh, well, such is life on Blogger. And I do like that picture. It's no wonder that the art form caught on the way it did. Unfortunately, too many non-artists liked it as well.

Posted by: Alexandr on November 21, 2002 09:29 PM

Glad you blokes liked the Letteg piece.

I too am a devoted disciple of Alhoa Barney, and am trying my best to emulate him in everything I do. The ham sandwich, beer and piano accordian trick is proving hard to master, I admit.

Love the site!


- Pat

Posted by: Pat Sheil on July 9, 2003 10:23 PM

Had to laugh reading the article by Pat Sheil as I had similar thoughts as an owner of a Charlie McPhee original. Charlie had a 'ditto' lifestyle as Leeteg and was Leeteg's disciple.

McPhee was jolted into a lifetime goal of making every moment count when at the age of 10 he discovered his father's murdered body.

He was originally Australian but lived several years in Samoa and Tahiti until making his way to New Zealand. Here he was famous for throwing parties that saw the famous and the infamous enjoying poisson cru made by his Tahitian wife, and falling down bracken and fern seaside cliffs.

McPhee's life is worth a movie as much as Leeteg's - their stories could run in sequel.

Posted by: Shirley on August 15, 2003 08:11 AM

I'am a collector of Original leeteg paintings. Does anyone have any for sale?

Posted by: Susan on November 12, 2003 09:27 AM

Anyone interested in purchasing an original Leeteg paintings or two procured from the Don the Beachcomber auction? Each a headshot portrait pose- 1 handsome young lady, & 1 handsome young man- no nudity. In original bamboo frames. Please send inquiries, serious buyers only.

Posted by: Keely on December 5, 2003 12:12 AM

I have an original Charlie McPhee portrait on black velvet, titled "Bora Bora Drummer". This painting was painted in 1961, purchased in Tahiti in 1964.

I would entertain offers if anyone is interested in buying it.

Posted by: Rick Holmes on February 6, 2004 02:15 PM

I have recently come into possession of 4 Charlie McPhee paintings done in 1944-45 in Samoa--not on black velvet. Anyone interested please contact.

Posted by: Patti on February 16, 2004 04:31 PM

Back to Michael's idea concerning a film about Leeteg. The film idea is an old one, and Burl Ives was going to play Edgar Leeteg. I know, because Mr. Ives went to my grandfather's house and looked at his collection of Leeteg's. My grandfather was Edgar's patron for many years, and I think we could make a great movie, and have I ever got ideas for a script!!!

Posted by: Todd Decker on April 26, 2004 11:39 PM

I was wondering,does Leeteg's,son
or daughter do,any painting on
black velvet?Just thought I would
ask?Thank you.Julie

Posted by: Julie Gifford on July 8, 2004 11:57 PM

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