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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Redwood revisited

Attention art sleuths: A close examination of the Redwood ad reveals this startling detail!

 

1960_redwood_poker_dogs

Yes, that's right! According to this 1960 ad, the "famed 'Poker Dog' original oil paintings" were on display at the Redwood. And the paintings were insured for $25,000 ($167,025.46 USD 2006), in case they were stolen, perhaps by some inebriated newsman in search of a souvenir for his desk.

Let's ignore, just for the sake of argument, that for $167,025.46 you could buy a shipping container of "Poker Dog" reprints, and look into this.   

If, by some fantastically unlikely quirk of fate, you've never seen one of these pictures, which hang in every bar, pool hall and rec room in America, they look like this:

 

Poker_dog


In fact, the paintings (above, "A Friend in Need") were done by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, and have been reproduced on calendars, wall clocks, decks of cards, drink coasters, bobblehead writing pens, needlepoint kits and figurines:

 

Poker_dog_figures

I have no idea what the Redwood hung on its walls in 1960, and whether the restaurant had any Coolidge originals is a question I can't answer. The location of Coolidge's 16 originals, done about 1903  as calendar art for Brown & Bigelow, is unclear. A pair of originals sold on EBay for $590,400 in 2005 and several other, as yet unidentified, originals have sold at auction over the years.

Obviously, a (nonalcoholic) field trip to the Redwood is in order. In the meantime, surely there are some veteran patrons who can fill me in. You know who you are. And perhaps some art historian at the Getty would like to offer an opinion on the enduring popularity of the "Poker Dogs" series.   

Where are the original "Poker Dog" paintings? Are any of them still at the Redwood? This could be like finding the Amber Room at Philippe. Stay tuned!

Here's a satiric look (at least I think satiric, though one never knows) about secret meanings in the "Poker Dogs" paintings.

Email me

ps. Now that I have found an L.A. connection to the "Poker Dogs," I feel almost guilty making fun of the clown paintings in Brian De Palma's "The Black Dahlia."

Almost.


 
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Comments (1)

Just read this and it made my day. I can asure you there are no original coolidge poker dogs here now.
yours truly
Christian Frizzell
current owner of the RedWood Bar & Grill


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