After quickly realizing that the exhibit wouldn’t be in Los Angeles for much longer, I finally made my way to Tattoo at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The walkthrough exhibit highlights the 5,000-year history of the ritual and art of tattoo, showcasing tribal traditions, worldwide criminal linkage, and more contemporary art forms. I enjoyed that it touched on quite a bit of LA tattoo culture, including some of the first shops in Long Beach and East LA. The curators, who are out of Paris, also did an excellent job of including female artists and tattooed women. The exhibit included an actual tattoo parlor where patrons could get some work done as part of the exhibit. Although it left much to be desired, in my opinion, it gave me space and time to appreciate the art and reflect on my own pieces.
Not one tattoo is a regret. Some have coincided with travel. A Polynesian octopus in the birthplace of “tatu,” French Polynesia (Tahiti), a sisterly whim in Vegas, a visit to Baltimore’s “tattoo museum” which turned out to be a tattoo shop (when in Rome…). Some are tributes to people: a friend gone too soon, my beloved parents, a daughter and a husband (it’s not the kiss of death!). But really, the majority of mine are simply for the beauty of the art of tattoo itself and the unbelievable talent that it takes to create beautiful work on a soft canvas with only needles and ink. I am blown away each and every time. It is truly magic.