‘Inked!’ – it’s no tattoo show

BY KATHY HALL Correspondent


“Marioprah” by Mark Dean Veca “Marioprah” by Mark Dean Veca Although named after a tattoo term, “Inked!,” an exhibit on view at the Shore Institute of the Contemporary Arts (SICA) in Long Branch until Aug. 20, is no tattoo show.

“I wasn’t interested in having a literal tattoo show,” curator Koan Jeff Baysa explained at the opening, “but to look at something that had a wider embrace.”

His curator’s notes state, “The intention of ‘Inked’ is to provoke a dialogue on how this pervasive underground subculture has infiltrated the everyday and influenced artistic production in surprising, inventive and remarkable ways.”

“Heads” by D. Dominick Lombardi “Heads” by D. Dominick Lombardi Don Ed Hardy and Joel Hilgenberg are tattoo artists who also work in other mediums. Considered the godfather of Western tattoo subculture, Hardy established Tattoo City in San Francisco, founded the Hardy Marks publishing house, and recently launched a clothing line. Four of his acrylic paintings rooted in tattoo design are in the show.

Hilgenberg, who includes Max Bechmann and Alice Neel among his influences, is represented by two large ink-on-paper drawings that incorporate wings and banners, traditional tattoo elements.

“flyG” by Anna Tsubaki “flyG” by Anna Tsubaki Baysa described Hilgenberg’s work as demonstrating a “deft hand in shading and line” and “creating dense interweaving imagery within a flat perspective.”

Painter Mark Dean Veca is not a tattoo artist, although he recently designed one for a friend.

“My work is related to tattoos in the way that it relies on the line quality and some of the colors and the images,” he said. Veca has created large-scale installations for Nike and Bloomberg and is represented by a variety of ink-and-acrylic and screen-printed pieces.

“Arrows” by Anna Tsubaki “Arrows” by Anna Tsubaki Both Betsabee Romero and Steed Taylor place tattoo-inspired designs on public streets. Romero incised tires with architectural motifs and used them to print streets in Mexico and Havana. Samples of her carved tires, photographs of street prints and a 269-inch tire-printed floor cloth are on display.

Taylor’s road tattoos are commemorative and part of a memorial ritual he created.

“Think of roads as the skin of a community,” he explained. “People tattoo themselves to commemorate something or to honor something or memorialize something, so the road tattoos are specifically for that.”

“Royal Flesh” by Amanda Church “Royal Flesh” by Amanda Church As in a skin tattoo, Taylor’s ritual begins with outlining the design on the site, then names are painted within the design by the participants. After a prayer by a nondenominational minister, the names are painted over and “sealed into” the design. Documentation photographs as well as scale drawings and a video on the creation of his “Liar’s Knot” are on display.

Writer Shelley Jackson contributes the only work that involves tattoos. She put out a call for participants who would have one word from her 2,095-word story, “Skin,” tattooed on their body.

“Strike” by Don Ed Hardy “Strike” by Don Ed Hardy To start the process, she had the title tattooed on her hand. The story will not be published anywhere else and only the participants, whom Jackson calls “words,” will be given the full text. Each person must accept the word they are given and provide proof of their tattoo. As each “word” dies, the story will change. On view is the case study of the “words” tattoo.

Also on display are Anna Tsubaki’s club posters, Amanda Church’s “organelles” sculptures derived from loose pencil drawings that are then translated back into distinct pen-and-ink drawings by D. Dominick Lombardi, and a multimedia study for a sculpture by Michelle Lopez.

SICA is located at 20 Third Ave. in Long Branch. The hours are 1-5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call (732) 263-1121 or visit www.sica.org.