“What the [expletive deleted] is that on your toe???” cried my mom, about 12 years ago, upon discovering my tattoo-an itsy bitsy ladybug on my big toe. (I once read that finding a ladybug on oneself signals good luck; therefore, I figured, it stood to reason that getting one permanently affixed to one’s person would ensure a lifetime of it. This has yet to manifest in a Lotto win, but I remain hopeful.) We were at the bank, as I was preparing to take off for the summer, and emptying my account was first on the list of a day full of errands. “It’s a tattoo, Mom,” I said. The teller looked amused. My mom did not. Nor was she amused several years before that, when I broke the news that I’d gotten my eyebrow pierced. (Although, upon seeing that one, she admitted it was cute.)
She couldn’t understand why I’d want to do such things. Maybe there was a touch of that “people with tattoos/piercings in their face” prejudice at play, too. But, to my mind, body art must have been one of the very first kinds of art: Before guitars and typewriters and graffiti, creative types the world over had few options-paint on a cave or decorate oneself. It’s anthropology, and history, and art all rolled into one delightful package! And today, tattoo artists are some of the most talented and skilled artists around-maybe because the stakes are so high; if they screw up, they could doom some poor shmoe to spending the rest of his days looking like a total tool. Regardless, and regardless of the fact that my own ink is decidedly wimpy, I’m a huge fan.
So when I saw Matt Armor’s Facebook status (oh, the ‘book-a devilishly insidious addiction, much like coffee, crack, or that freaking nicotine gum), which read, “Matt is DJing the Golden Eagle Tattoo Art Show,” I promptly invited myself along. And last Friday night, I made my way to lower State Street to check it out.
A good-sized crowd filled the shop, which has been around for several years which have clearly spent doing killer work and building a loyal following of ink-loving locals. Upstairs, I found a huge, airy space-used for private appointments-studded with all kinds of art, from tattoo-inspired paintings to wood carvings. I also found Golden Eagle’s Josh Parkhurst, stoked on the crowd and enthusiastic about making the shows regular events-and expanding them to include a wider variety of art and reaching out to more of the community. Back downstairs, there was cold beer, boxed wine (yes, it still exists, even in Santa Barbara!), good tunes, and more peeping to be had, leaving me feeling lucky to have stumbled upon such a cool gathering.
But that big Lotto win remains elusive.