Tiki “MUGS” with Ray Features Gecko’z Skull Mugs

Another big mahaloz to Ray Wyland of “Tiki With Ray” for his second feature on Gecko’z South Sea Arts’ in two weeks, this time featuring Gecko’z skull series. And another BIG shout out to Vance Klinke for being a HUGE supporter of our work. Email Gecko at [email protected] to inquire about custom orders.

Tiki “MUGS” with Ray Features Gecko’z Sunken Treasure

Big Mahaloz to Ray Wyland of “Tiki With Ray” for his recent feature on Gecko’z South Sea Arts’ Sunken Treasure series, and of course to Vance Klinke for being a good friend and HUGE supporter of our work. For the uninitiated, Tiki With Ray is a popular blog and video series that dives deep into Tiki culture around the world. Click here for more about Gecko’z South Sea Arts Sunken Treasure series and email Gecko at [email protected] to inquire about custom orders.

Max’s South Seas Hideaway – A Video Tour

We’re beyond stoked to announce that the grand opening of Max’s South Seas Hideway is finally here. For those of you who can’t yet make it over to Grand Rapids Michigan here’s a little taste of what to expect. Learn more about about Gecko’z South Sea Arts partnership in Max’s South Seas Hideaway.

From Gecko’z South Sea Arts to Max’s South Seas Hideaway

After months of keeping things under wraps, we’re proud to make a HUGE announcement. Michigan is about to get a lot more tropical and whole lot more TIKI.

Coming soon to Grand Rapids MI, neighbor to Motor City / Motown, is Max’s South Seas Hideaway, the shrunken head brainchild of Mark Sellers, Martin Cate, and South Seas Arts’ own Mike “Gecko” Souriolle.

For the uninitiated, Mark Sellers is a Grand Rapids native, brewmaster, and renowned restauranteur who first threw his thatched hat into the tiki ring after opening of TikiCat, a tiki bar in the basement of the famed HopCat in Kansas City. And what about Martin Cate? Cate is one cat who knows his way behind and around the bar. The self-professed tiki-phile is a James Beard award-winning mixologist and owner of San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove, and partner in Whitechapel (also in San Francisco), Hale Pele in Portland, False Idol in San Diego, and Lost Lake in Chicago. Starting to ring a bell? And then of course there’s Gecko. If you’re reading this, you already know. Long story short – this new addition to the mainland tiki bar scene is in the most capable of hands. The only bottoms up you’ll find with this bar are the drinks!

Max’s interior will be adorned with original designs from Bamboo Ben, Tiki Diablo and Notch Gonzalez, a trio plucked from the best-known tiki artisans on the planet. The three story tropical escape with also be blessed by a massive collection of vintage and modern tiki art and decor, curated from the hidden corners of the world. And yes, there will be an unmistakable note of Gecko’z South Sea Arts wafting through the interior, including this collection of rescued and repurposed beams from Oahu’s historic Ward Warehouse.

south sea arts tiki totems

“We’re bringing an entirely new drinking and dining experience to Grand Rapids that we think will stand alongside the best tiki bars in the world” (Martin Cate) 

Stay tuned as we update you on new developments, including exclusive Max’s South Seas Hideaway mug releases, and the Grand Opening – coming soon!

Oahu’s Ward Warehouse History Gets Tiki Rebirth

Visitors to the island of Oahu who haven’t been to the landmark merchant center, Ward Warehouse, for the last couple of years are in for a bit of a surprise. It ain’t what it used to be. In place, is Ward Village, a “live work play” post-modern contemporary whatchamacallit that has replaced the iconic Kakaako shopping district. 

In the summer of 2017 the last remaining tenants were given notice to move out the 42-year-old (at the time) Honolulu retail and dining complex. Soon after it was shut down and demolished to make way for a luxury mixed residential and commercial project that stands there today, courtesy of Texas developer, the Howard Hughes Corporation. A few retailers survived, most importantly Nā Mea Hawaiʻi, which is not just a shop but a gathering place that exudes pride and respect for the Hawaiian culture, providing patrons with access to books, products, and artisan wares that speak to the culture, language, and traditions of the Hawaiian people. Granted, the space Nā Mea exists in today is a fraction of the size of the one that once stood in the Ward Warehouse. Most local businesses, however, didn’t make the cut. 

As you know, change is inevitable in the most populated of the Hawaiian Island chain, especially on the south shore. But does that mean we should sit on the sidelines as decades old establishments (and memories) fall to the wayside to make way for supposed progress? Certainly not. Protest? That’s for some. But for others it’s more about rescuing pieces of history, preserving and in some cases repurposing them to give them new life in a manner that honors what they once stood for. And that’s where this story comes in.

Gecko, of South Sea Arts, was able to rescue a total of 50 cedar and redwood beams from the old Ward Warehouse as it was being taken down. As it was to many Oahu residents, Ward Center held a special place in Gecko’s heart, a place where he and his family shared countless days and evenings of leisure, and where his son Kainoa performed hula with his halau. Over the last year, Gecko has worked tirelessly from his Makakilo studio, transforming each post into a work of art, inspired by the style of master carver Milan Guanko in addition to Witco and vintage Waikiki fifties hapa haole type work. Today, Gecko has almost completed the entire run of the repurposed Ward Warehouse post carvings, and one day they will collectively stand for thousands of people to admire. While their new home is currently under wraps, the new story for these pieces of Ward history will unfold. Until then, here’s a look at Gecko’s incredible work:

A Legacy Worth Preserving

Victoria Ward (as in Ward Center), daughter of Kaikilani, a woman of Hawaiian ancestry whose chiefly lineage had roots in Ka’u, Hilo and Honokowai, Maui.

Beams behind the scenes at the old Ward