Results tagged “LA Skin & Ink”
In September, we posted on the L.A. Skin & Ink exhibit, which is currently on view at the The Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles until January 6, 2013. We won't be able to make it to the West Coast before its closing, and so we're grateful to Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman, who offers this insightful review of the exhibition -- and a bit of a tattoo history lesson. The value of her expertise here is not limited to her thoughts on this particular show but also makes an excellent guide for those seeking to organize their own tattoo exhibitions. For more from Anna, check her Tattoo History Daily blog.
By Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman
As a tattoo-history scholar and curator, I'm always excited for the opportunity to see new exhibits that highlight the art form I love so much. My recent Thanksgiving trip to Los Angeles gave me the opportunity to stop by the LA Skin & Ink show at the Craft and Folk Art Museum. From the press release, I was expecting an in-depth investigation that "explores the unique role of Los Angeles in the Tattoo Renaissance over the last 60 years.
Sadly, the exhibit did not fulfill my expectations. Instead it presented a curatorially confused mishmash of flash, photographs, and artwork. Was this a tattoo history show? A show of fine art by tattoo artists? A show of art somehow generally related to tattooing? Upon rereading the press release post-visit, I probably should have tempered my enthusiasm in advance--it trots out many of the usual myths about tattooing pre-Renaissance being the purview of sailors and criminals (not to mention the typographical errors, which usually predict a general lack of attention to detail or consistency).
From my first steps into the exhibit, a disconnect between what the museum wanted the exhibit to be and what the exhibit ended up being became immediately clear. The wall text promises an exhibit about LA tattooers who "have been instrumental in researching and refining the distinct styles of Japanese, Tribal, and Black and Grey tattooing." It was a shock to turn around and then see, situated across from the wall text, essentially, an installation art piece rooted loosely in old-school Americana (described in the exhibit label as a "site-specific installation" by Lucky Bastard, Buzzy Jenkins, and Lincoln Jenkins). A wall filled with sheets of mid-20th-century flash hovered above an artist's evocation of a "historic" tattoo "station."
After a video monitor screening interviews with LA tattoo artists and collectors, the exhibit then transitioned into a brief tattoo-technology section. The press-release promised "tattoo equipment" which would make one assume there would be a sizeable selection. Two power supplies, two machines, and a single photograph of a machine, with a short 3-paragraph text about "How It Works" didn't really do any justice to an understanding of this aspect of tattooing nor was any unique LA angle with respect to tattoo technology obvious.
The next section started the confused mix of work that would characterize the rest of the show. Under the heading "American Traditional," classic old-school artists Bert Grimm and Bob Shaw shared a wall with Cliff Raven's work--much of it from his Chicago days, not his California ones. Across from them, tagged as "Japanese," hung Sailor Jerry flash and some contemporary fine-art pieces by Ed Hardy. At the end of the room a selection of "Tribal" tattooing highlighted Leo Zulueta's blackwork, which along with one of the pieces representing Zulu's work around the corner, appeared to be the only "tribal" included in the show.
Especially problematic for me in this gallery, I struggled to grasp why Sailor Jerry, who as far as I know did not work in LA, had been included in the show (and given such a large and prominent section). Also, none of the Hardy pieces were either from his LA days (the pieces were dated 1999-2007) nor particularly tattoo related (all of Hardy's fine-art work aesthetically draws at least a bit from his many years as a tattooer, but many, many other pieces would have been better choices for this exhibit--I would have loved to have seen in person some of the Bert-Grimm-inspired flash Hardy drew as a kid living in Orange County reproduced in "Tattooing the Invisible Man."
No Pain, No Gain (Portrait of the artist Jeffrey Lutz), Sergio Sanchez, oil on linen, 2011.
For my West Coast homies, this Saturday, September 29 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m is the public opening reception of L.A. Skin & Ink at the The Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles. The show "explores the unique role of Los Angeles in the Tattoo Renaissance over the last 60 years. The exhibition will move through the transformation of tattooing from its traditional base of military and outlaw cultures into an art form of great distinction and adoption into contemporary culture."
It's a serious show displaying the work and artifacts of tattoo legends who have passed as well as today's art stars, including Bert Grimm, Bob Shaw, Don Ed Hardy, Cliff Raven, Jill Jordan, Leo Zulueta, Jack Rudy, Charlie Cartwright, Estevan Oriol, Mr. Cartoon, Edgar Hoill, Lucky Bastard, Zulu, Carlos Torres, Sergio Sanchez, Shawn Barber, Camila Rocha, Sean Cheetham, and more.
L.A. Skin & Ink runs from September 30, 2012 to January 6, 2013, and during this time there will be talks and special programs associated with the exhibit, including Zulu Lounge Night on November 10th. Check CAFAM's Facebook page for more info.
For tomorrow's opening party, anyone who shows their tattoo at the admission desk gets in for free. The museum is also free on the first Wednesday of every month. Otherwise, it's regularly $7 for adults; $5 for students, seniors, and veterans; and free for CAFAM members. It's hours are Tuesday - Friday, 11am - 5pm; Saturday/Sunday, 12pm - 6 pm; and closed Mondays.
The Craft and Folk Art Museum is located at 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036. You can't miss it with the new window display created for the show by Norm Will Rise.