The City of Angels is a confluence of obnoxious neon glowing off of corporate megalith shopping malls/entertainment centers and gritty, seedy back alleys. However, nestled between the two is an island of relief and refuge where the inhabitants help keep the balance between Big Buck Chuck and his wallet full of black credit cards and Ink Mark with his full sleeves and neck tattoos.
The inhabitants of the aforementioned island make up the L.A. art community. Filmmakers, painters, sculptors, tattooists, photographers, and yes, even bike builders all fill the bill and are at the heart of what makes El Pueblo such an eclectic and magical place.
While artists love to use the vast spectrum of the color wheel to express their inner vision and creativity, it's often the simplicity of black and gray that can stir the most emotion and suck a viewer right into the artist's or subject's state of mind. To help celebrate the long tradition of the use of black and gray in tattooing, drawing, painting, and photography, passionate fans of the black and gray movement Tom Foster and his lovely Claudia Candelas worked with their close knit community of artists and friends to curate an exhibit exemplifying the power of the colors.
Currently being held in downtown L.A. at Gallery 1927, an amazingly beautiful and historic piece of artistic architecture, the exhibit "Black and Gray Affair" showcases the works of tattoo artists Robert Atkinson, Ben Corn, Tim Hendricks, Corey Miller, and Jack Rudy. Also on display are photographs from photographer Estevan Oriol. The exhibit runs from April 4 through May 8, 2010, 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.. 811 West Seventh Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90017.
Dating back to the '20s, Gallery 1927 was an artist's living space and work haven. Upstairs were the artists living quarters/work area. Downstairs, the wooden display cases in the lobby were crafted for the artists to show their work. Both the interior and exterior are magnificent and give off the feeling of being in an old gothic church with a mosaic tile ceiling and floor, hand-chiseled sculptures, and soft golden-yellow lighting.
Artist: Ben Corn, Piece: Dragon Head, Method: Watercolor.
Originally from Norco, California, Ben has spent the past 15 years tattooing with a focus on black and gray. Ben served his apprenticeship under Roger Blankenship of Almost Brothers Tattoo, and credits Mark Mahoney, Freddy Negrete, and Filip Leu as his inspirations. Currently Ben works out of a private studio in Big Bear Lake, California.
Artist: Robert Atkinson, Piece: Snake, Method: Watercolor.
An L.A. native, Robert got his start air-brushing T-shirts. Some friends noticed his work, appreciated his skills, and bought him a tattoo kit. Honing these skills, Robert worked a few years in L.A. then went international tattooing in Denmark and Holland. Robert eventually made his way back to L.A. and now works out of a private locale, Victory Studio in Studio City where he spends most his time filling requests for large-scale black and gray Japanese pieces.
Artist: Tim Hendricks, Piece: The Jade Lady, Method: Mixed media.
As the son of an artist, you could say Tim was born with a pencil in his hand. Taking what he learned from his father and practicing his skills on the neighborhood homeboys, Tim evolved as an artist. Since he began his professional tattoo career in 1994, Tim has continued to master his skills by drawing, painting, and tattooing at Saltwater Tattoo.
Artist: Tim Hendricks, Piece: Top Tier, Method: Drawing.
Artist: Estevan Oriol, Piece: Big Lucky, Method: Photograph.
Embedded in the hip-hop culture as a bouncer at some of L.A's top clubs, Esetvan hooked up with hip-hop supergroup Cypress Hill and eventually became the tour manager for House of Pain. With camera in hand, Estevan began capturing the antics, highs, and lows of being on the road. Back home, Estevan aimed his camera lens at the streets and captured the culture around him, low riders, and his homies. It wasn't long before his images began gracing the pages of magazines like, Complex, FHM, GQ, and Rolling Stone. Today, Estevan has expanded into a clothing line, Joker Brand Clothing with Mr. Cartoon, as well as establishing a brand marketing, multimedia design/art company with Mr. Cartoon. He has also been filming music videos for high-profile artists such as Eminem, Linkin Park, and Blink 182.
Artist: Estevan Oriol, Piece: Danny Trejo, Method: Photograph.
Artist: Ben Corn, Piece: Virgen de Guadalupe, Method: Watercolor.
Artist: Ben Corn, Piece: Skull, Method: Oil on canvas.
Artist: Ben Corn, Piece: Skull with Tattoo Gun, Method: Drawing.