“BEST OF” List is Updated

 Motorcycle Tour and Travel, Tattoosday  Comments Off on “BEST OF” List is Updated
Nov 042009
 

Update from my Best Of 2010 Part I post highlighting the most essential bike rallies, tattoo conventions, and Rockabilly/kustom culture gigs coming up next year…

The folks at Go Live Fast have gotten their act together and have started to get the 8th Annual Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival website up and running.  And we have dates!  Jan. 15-17 will be the weekend to strut your stuff, get some new ink, and take home a trophy.  More at their website: www.golivefast.com.

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Oct 282009
 

Fall is here and many of you are getting your bikes ready for the winter storage.  I live in Houston, TX and am able to have my bike out all year long with little discomfort.  I may take a ride in 30 or 40-degree weather four or five times… but nothing like our die-hard friends up North.

As many of you pack up your sleds, I am sure you start to daydream about Daytona.  It is, after all, the first major rally of the year.  I am no different.  The Galveston Rally is about to hit this weekend, but after that, the big rallies are over for the riding season.  So, I daydream about next year’s schedule.  And this time around, I think I would like to add a few destinations to the list that I have either never been to before, or have not been in ages and ages.  What follows will be a three-part article on the best of the best, dream destinations for 2010.  You will find the old standards like Sturgis, new events like Asian tattoo conventions, and kustom culture events like Viva Las Vegas… so read, enjoy, mark your calendars, and dream big.

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January is an overwhelming month for tattoo conventions.  Kicking off the year is one event I have never attended and would give my left nut to visit (well, that is if it wasn’t already surgically removed).  2010 will host the 2nd Annual Singapore Tattoo Convention (www.tattoo.com.sg/).  Yeah, Singapore!  Like Singapore Sling… a reason many young folks get their first tattoo… This convention does a wonderful job of mixing the best artists and amazing styles.  Last year’s event was titled “East Meets West” and showcased 60 of the East’s best artists and 60 of the most talented from the West.  This year’s selection should be just as amazing.  And before you start freaking out thinking that there is no way your artist can finish your piece at the show’s short run from January 8th thru 10th, and there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that you will ever be able to afford to travel back to Singapore, the convention folks have set up shop for post tattoo show sessions… so, extend your stay, enjoy the culture, and get that piece wrapped up before heading back home.  Cool.

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Stateside will provide Austin’s own, Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival (www.golivefast.com/contentsaus.php).  This will be the 8th year of this convention and my Ol’ Lady and I always love attending.  The only bitch I have about this gathering is that I never know what is going on there until the convention is upon us.  As of now, there is nothing on-line about the 2010 event, but we can assume that it will most likely take place January 8-10 or 15-17.  I am rooting for the later weekend as my little girl’s birthday is January 9th and I won’t make it out there for the show if we are having a bouncy castle bash for a bunch of four year olds.

But, if it is the 15th-17th, and I actually could go anywhere I wanted, my number one choice would be to travel to Australia where I could soak in the biker culture (which is rapidly changing because of the events taking place the past 6 months or so), and I could attend the SURFink Tattoo Convention.  Not only would the weather be beautiful, remember it will be the height of the summer Down Under, but there would be so many new roads to ride, bikers to meet and amazing tattoo artists to watch.  The artist list consists of some of the best tattoo talent in the entire world and the convention will be held in the infamous Gold Coast.  There will be seminars, Art Fusion events, tattoo contests, pin-up parades, and even trips to check out the rain forest!  Check it out, drool, and dream… www.tattoosurfink.com

February and March find us with the official kick off of the bike season with the Daytona Bike Week Rally.  The 69th anniversary of this event bridges February and March by running from Feb. 26 to March 7th (http://www.officialbikeweek.com).  We all know what to expect from this event.  There will be a huge party at Destination Daytona, the Bruce Rossmeyer legacy that includes his ginormous dealership, restaurants, music venues, a J&P store, an Arlen Ness dealership, and more.  There will be the Rat’s Hole Show, the Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Old School Chopper Show, events at Main Street (although probably not as much as in past years), coleslaw wrestling at the Cabbage Patch, events at the Last Resort in Port Orange, and more… Weather is usually great, people are nice, and the cops continue to get worse.

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April showers bring the Lucky #13th year of the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend!  Now this is an event not to be missed.  Make sure to be at the Orleans Hotel from April 1st – 4th for the very best in Rockabilly music anywhere.  Headlining is Chuck Berry.  And if for some reason the music doesn’t get you crazy, then go for the car show, tiki pool party, burlesque competition, vintage fashion show, and the biggest burlesque show in the world!

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And don’t forget the 28th Annual Laughlin River Run!  For those that have never been, the River Run became a media circus after the brawl between Mongols and Hells Angels at the Harrah’s Casino in 2002.  As of late, the run has become a bit more expensive, but is still well attended.  You can check out the happenings and schedule soon at the LRR’s homepage: www.laughlinriverrun.com. The beauty of this year’s event is that the 3rd Annual Laughlin Tattoo Convention will be happening at the same time!  The Aquarius Casino Resort will host the event April 21st – 25th and there will be the usual tattoo contests, music, good food, great folks, and there will be bikers!  Check to see if your favorite artist is going to show by visiting the official website at www.dermalknowledgeproductions.net.

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Jan 202009
 

 

_mg_0346This past weekend I was able to attend a day of the 7th Annual Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival held in Austin, TX.  The show was not bad and I did have a good time there.  There were a few highlights, one of which was winning my first trophy.  Well, actually, my artist Nick Baxter is responsible for the win as I am just a canvas.

I had never before entered a tattoo contest as I have previously only had a few small works done, and they are really not all that impressive.  So, I was looking forward to this show where I would put myself up on stage for the first time.  The competition looked REALLY good to me and I think I have a pretty discerning eye for derma graphics.  There were three or four people there with work that I really thought was beautiful, technically fantastic, and imaginative.  I was the eighteenth entrant and there was a lot of talk on stage about nice pieces, how things flowed, good color, etc… then they called me up there.  I took off my shirt and showed the judges.  The MC went ape shit over the work and the judges were so into the piece.  I got to point out the portraits of my daughters hidden in the film and talk a little about the work itself.

This particular piece took about 37 hours over 12 months to complete.  I was originally to begin having the work done in 2006, but the birth of my second daughter put that plan on hold for a little while.  Eventually, I began in December of 2007 and was done by December 2008.  I flew to Connecticut twice for my first three sessions with Nick (one session to start and later a weekend of back to back sessions).  Next I was able to visit Nick at a shop in Dallas where he was doing a guest spot and I then visited him two more times at his new place in Austin, where he currently resides.  We averaged a little over six hours of needle time each session, which works out to be a good place for me.  I could go eight or nine hours if I had to, but that is like doing an Iron Butt on a bike… those last few hours get to be a bitch.

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I had researched tattoo artists diligently for two or three years before I settled on Baxter.  My criterion was an AMAZING artist who was not only technically proficient, but had vision.  I put a lot of emphasis on artists who could really hold their own in the Fine Art Arena of painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.  I wanted someone with a well-rounded art background who could create amazing work on skin and canvas.  In researching people for the first “Artists of Permanence: the fine art of the tattooist” exhibition that I curated at the University of Houston- Clear Lake, I came across five or six artists that I would certainly love to have work on me.  Why was Nick chosen first?  Well, it came down to seeing a few of his previous works.  First, I knew he could pull off a large piece that flowed together visually and conceptually; this was obvious by his portfolio.  Second was a sleeve that he had worked on affectionately known as the “chair sleeve.”  This work depicted different chairs by famous furniture designers.  The chair portraits were fantastic, the leather looked like leather, the chrome like chrome, the plastic like plastic.  Very hard to do and done very well.  Lastly, Nick had pioneered the idea of the pixilated tattoo.  He had done quite a few images that broke down into pixels and, being a photographer, I loved that idea!

I dropped him a note with some ideas to see if he was into it, and he said he would put me in the schedule.  This was back in 2005.  As I told you before, it took a little while to actually put needle to skin.  I spent those days and nights dreaming up what the piece would look like, finding reference material, and researching different images.  I believe this is a good process to go through, however, I ended up sending all my research to Nick in a huge packet of papers and images that were complete overload!  As it turns out, I really needed the material and the ideas, and he was able to get the point by just talking to me and seeing a couple things.  Not that he minded the paperwork, but it was much more useful to me than to him.

Anyway, the theme of my sleeve is steeped in education, photo history, and the theory of “Spirit Photography.”  I am an artist who works in Photography, so the photo thing is easy enough.  The SX-70 Polaroid camera on my shoulder was drawn after the actual camera that I have been using for the past ten years or so.  The wings are symbolic of photo history’s past… analog photo dying out, the Polaroid film finally going out of production, and so on.  I had originally toyed with the idea of using a winged box camera that was the logo of the Daily News, the first illustrated newspaper, but opted to make the logo more personal.  This was to be a primary focus of the piece and was laid down first. 

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Next we worked on the “Ivory Tower.”  I am a tenured professor of fine arts and the ivory tower has special significance for me.  Yes, they say that educators hide away in their ivory towers doing research that means little in the real world and they lose touch with what is actually important, but I feel there is another side.  As a professor who has gone through the arduous task of earning tenure, the tower motif may be seen as a type of prison.  Not unlike Goldilocks, we are put inside a fortress and made to produce for the reigning king, head honcho, dean, or provost.  We are imprisoned as much as we are free.  Tenure adds stability to our lives by saying that unless we really, really fuck up, we still have a job… It also means that once you go through all that is required to obtain this golden prize, you never want to leave and start over somewhere else. 

The tower is made to look like real ivory and is more organic than most depictions of the same entity.  This one is created out of skulls, which historically have been seen as a symbol of intelligence and wisdom as the skull houses the brain.

The photographs and film that seem to fall from the heavens hold the key to the last photo historical referents.  The film depicts images of a horse at full gallop.  This infamous set of images resulted from a $25,000 bet between Eadweard Muybridge and the then governor of California, Leland Stanford as to whether or not all four hooves of a horse left the ground at the same time at any point during a gallop.  Yes, they had been drinking… the bet took place in the bar.  Regardless, Muybridge created the first set of “stop action” images of a high-speed subject.  The result was proof that all four hooves left the ground.  The important thing here is really at which point the hooves are in the air.  Up until this time, all paintings of four legged animals running showed the animal in a “Superman” pose.  As it turns out, no animal looks like that while running.  This series changed the face of painting forever.

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From the idea of horses to the “iron horse” of the motorcycle was not a huge leap at this point.  Because I photograph bikes, it made some sense to follow this line of thinking into the next filmstrip.

The Polaroids tell the story of Spirit Photography.  It has been believed by different cultures that to have a photograph made of you steals your soul.  Other cultures believe that a camera can capture the image of a spirit.  William Mumler was famous for his images of this nature, and even produced an image of Abraham Lincoln with his wife after his president’s untimely demise.  In any case, two Polaroid images on the lower arm depict the spirits breaking free from the confines of the image and escaping into silver ether as silver is the photosensitive component of photographs… from ashes to ashes.  The image that is falling from the Polaroid camera depicts the living and the dead, that which haunts us, and/or the physical self and the spiritual reality.

As I mentioned earlier, my daughter’s portraits are in one of the filmstrips.  If you were to follow that piece of film up my inner arm, you would find how it makes the transformation from analog to digital as it breaks up into a pixilated image of a face.  My wife has claimed that the image is of her, but the truth will never be known.

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So what else is there to explain… hmmm, it is green because my favorite color is green… I don’t know, I think we have covered it in its entirety.  So what comes next?  Well, I have a plan for my chest piece and my left sleeve.  Both will be from amazing artists, however I will not allow myself to take on another project with someone across the country.  It is too difficult on the family and too costly.  In any case, I have found a few folks within driving distance who are spectacular.  I plan to start up again in a month or so.  And after that?  Well, after that I am going to take a break and hold off for a little while.  I have made a plan with myself that I will do my back piece for my 50th birthday.  I need a few years to research ideas and artists ya know…

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

 

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Jan 132009
 

 

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I needed to get out for a few hours and the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival was just the ticket to my sanity.  A few friends of mine were going to make the trip out to Austin with me from Houston, but they ended up with other obligations, so I was on my own.  I had a late start, but made it to the convention site in a respectable 2.5 or 3 hours.  The important thing was that I made it before the tattoo competition that I had been looking forward to for some time.

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I paid my admission, $15, and started to meander.  I sauntered up and down the rows of artists and booths.  People were getting work done left and right and the buzz in the air was both electric and audible as the tattoo machines buzzed their own tune of beautification.  The crowd was a bit light compared to other events, but it was the last day of the convention and I was there shortly after the event opened for the day.

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I found my good friends Nick Baxter and Jeff Ensminger working their magic among the masses and stopped to say hello.  As you know, Nick has been my artist this past year and I am lucky to know him.  I met Jeff through Baxter and he is a very good guy, a great artist, and really, really funny.  Both are so laid back and good-natured that you really have to try to have a bad time around them if you don’t want to chat, laugh, and have a good time.

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I left the two to their work and continued my rounds.  I met a lot of great people there like Liorcifer, Gunner, Angel, and everyone waiting in line for the tattoo competitions.  There were some impressive booths, a few great handmade tattoo machines, Flyrite Chopper’s bikes on display, a very cool art show where artists put their traditional fine art up for viewing, and much more.

_mg_03382There were a few different sets of entertainment, one of which was a thrill show with sword swallowing and knife throwing.  I was not able to catch the show, but I understand that Sunday’s set went just swimmingly.  A new volunteer was needed for the knife throwing, however, as the usual assistant was off stage with stitches.  It seems that Saturday’s show didn’t go over so well and ended up with a quick trip to the emergency room.  I wonder if the new volunteer was aware of the knife thrower’s track record.

_mg_0289-copyOverall, I would say the show was a success.  I enjoyed myself and look forward to next year.  As of now, the tattoo contest results have not been posted and I did not have the foresight to write everything down while I was watching… however, I did get a few shots of some of the contestants and I do know that Baxter got a best sleeve and Ensminger got a best large color, third in back, and a tattoo of the day.  Enjoy.

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

 

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Welcome home from Iraq, Angel... glad you are here with us.

Welcome home from Iraq, Angel... glad you are here with us.

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Tattoosday : Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival

 Tattoosday  Comments Off on Tattoosday : Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival
Jan 062009
 

 

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This weekend brings us the 7th annual Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival hosted by GoLiveFast.com.  This happens to be the first tattoo convention my Ol’ Lady and I were able to attend together.  I had been to conventions in the 80’s and 90’s, but they have changed a lot since then.  There is still a lot of partying going on, but there is also a whole lot of serious ink slinging!  These events give you the opportunity to meet, see work by, and even collect work by some of the best artists in the world as many artists travel internationally for these types of events.  Back in 2003 when Dayna and I went to the Star of Texas event together, we were able to meet Bugs and Gunnar (both of whom have been showcased in this blog).  There were many other amazing artists there and it was fantastic to be able to see everyone working out in the open.  

For those that are into the art of tattooing, there is also a wonderful art exhibition that goes up during the event.  Works are for sale and you can collect work on canvas, masonite, and other materials even if your favorite artist is already booked up for skin art this weekend.

Speaking of booked artists, many artists fill their spots before the convention even begins.  This can make it tough to get in line for someone you really want to work with.  However, some artists, like one of my own faves, Nick Baxter, often book on a first come, first served basis once the doors open on the first day.  So, with this in mind, you may want to get to the show early and seek out your favorite artist right away in hopes of securing a spot.

The following is from the GoLiveFast website and should answer some of your questions about the show:

 

BUY YOUR WEEKEND PASS NOW!!! Weekend pass is the best value and the best way to enjoy the whole festival Advance registration includes a collector’s laminate as well as admission to the show all three days and special events–including the big Opening Party, additional parties and shuttles/admission to world-famous Sixth Street nightclubs. 



Thursday, January 8th–Weekend pass pick-up and pre-sale at the Embassy Suites, 300 South Congress, from 5:00–9:00 pm.
The opening party will be announced soon.

Friday, January 9th–The convention floor at the Palmer Events Center will be open noon to 10:00pm. The Lucky Daredevil Thrill show is at 8:00 pm, with the Tattoo of the Day Contest at 9:30 pm. The after party will be at Triple Crown Tattoo; there will be shuttles for weekend pass holders from the Embassy Suites to the party. 



Saturday, January 10th–The convention floor at the Palmer Events Center will be open noon to 10:00pm Tattoo Contests begin at 3:00 pm, the Lucky Daredevil Thrill show is at 8:00 pm and the Tattoo of the Day Contest follows at 9:30 pm. The after party will be announced–there will be free shuttles to and from parties for weekend pass holders departing from Embassy Suites. 



Sunday, January 11th–The convention floor at the Palmer Events Center will be open noon to 7:00pm. Tattoo contests begin at 2:00 pm. Michelle Manx‘s Pin-up Belly dance performance will be at 4:30 pm, followed by the Lucky Daredevil Thrill show at 5:00 pm and the Tattoo of the Day Contest at 6:00 pm. The after party will be announced–there will be free shuttles to and from parties for weekend pass holders departing from Embassy Suites.

 

Hope you get to make it and if you see me, please stop me and say hello… I would be happy to photograph your tattoos for the site as well!

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker