|THE TATTOO I’D GET IF I WERE GOING TO GET A TATTOO.|
This week’s arts and culture column begins like this:
For all you ink aficionados, through April 15 the Natural History Museum is featuring a special exhibit: “Tattoo.”
Tattoo culture has been 5,000 years in the making. Since the 20th century, L.A. has formed a significant part of it.
“Before it becomes a mark,” the museum notes, “a tattoo is process. Its results can be a sign of identity, a rite of passage, a type of protection, a form of medicine, a memory made visible, or a piece of art to be collected and worn on that most intimate of canvases, the human skin.”
The exhibit, which costs 11 bucks in addition to the entrance fee, features commentary on the wide and varied history of tattoo, vintage photos, flash sheets of pinup girls, dragons and Catholic iconography, and videos.
Silicone arms, tattooed in various styles and backlit like medieval manuscripts, are displayed throughout in glass vitrines. There are tribal designs; a giant, writhing octopus by Kari Barba (b. 1960), whose Long Beach shop occupies the site of the legendary Bert Grimm’s World Famous Tattoo; and my own personal favorite, a style honed by Montreal tattoo artist Yann Black (b. 1973) that he describes as “somewhere between German Expressionism and Russian Constructivism.”