MODESTO -- Artists who use the human body as their canvas will get a showcase at downtown Modesto's Mistlin Gallery over the next month as part of the exhibition "Living Art: Tattoo Show."
The show will feature tattoo-inspired drawings and paintings by local artists and will explain the origins of tattooing and different styles. Four Modesto tattoo studios are participating in the event: Eternal Light, Think Ink, Paper Planes and Unbound. During the Third Thursday Art Walk onJune 21, several models will be on hand to talk about the story behind their tattoos.
The show is a big change of pace for the Central California Art Association-operated Mistlin Gallery, which usually sticks to paintings and more conventional work. It's the brainchild of 29-year-old volunteer docent April Gutierrez, who is passionate about the art form.
"I want people to know tattoos are not just for thugs and gangs and people in prison," she said. "I'm a member of the PTA (parent-teacher association) at my kids' school. I'm not heavily tattooed, but I'm pretty well tattooed."
Among the featured artists are Lonz "Big Lonz" Gonzalez, owner of Eternal Light Tattoo Studio. Now 38, he said he has been getting tattoos since he was 14. His first was getting his name tattooed on his back. "It hurt, but it was a macho thing," he said. "You've got to take it."
He believes tattoos are more popular these days because they're featured on shows like TLC's "Tattoo School." He will do almost any kind of tattoo and works closely with his customers to make sure they get something original. "No one wants to wear the same thing as anyone else," he said.
Jackie Castano, another artist featured in the show, doesn't do tattoos, but she makes art that is inspired by tattoos or that could be a design for a tattoo. Her designs features such subjects as Marie Antoinette and Charlie Chaplin.
"I'm into older stuff, classic black-and-white movies," said Castano, 22. "Charlie Chaplin is one of my favorites. His comedies are great."
She will show some of her tattoo-inspired watercolors in ornate frames or placed on antique trays. Like many of the artists participating in the show, she got interested in tattoos because many of her family members had them.
"It's a piece of work you love because it's going to be on you forever," she said.
WHAT: Living Art: Tattoo Show
WHEN: Tuesday through July 26. Gallery hours are 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon-4 p.m. Saturdays and5-9 p.m. June 21 for the Third Thursday Art Walk
WHERE: Mistlin Gallery, 1015 J St., Modesto
CALL: (209) 529-3369