Tattoos. There’s something mysterious and enigmatic about them. According to famed tattooer, painter, and printmaker Don Ed Hardy, “This enigma is central to the entire practice: few of us who are tattooed can formulate a pat answer as to why we do it, any more than the honest, intensely driven artist can say why he or she creates. The mystery keeps us going.”
Back in 1993, before there was a tattoo parlor on every block, Hardy teamed up with Tony Fitzpatrick, renowned Chicago artist (painting, etching, performance), to put on a gallery show devoted to exploring the art of tattoo. It was called Eye Tattooed America and it was first exhibited June 4 – August 14, 1993, at the Ann Nathan Gallery here in Chicago before going on tour across the nation.
The show featured the work of a variety of American tattoo artists, often in the form of sheets of sample tattoo designs known as “flash,” as well as works by fine artists who have been influenced by, and frequently dabbled in, the art of tattoo.
In this video shot as Eye Tattooed America was first opening at Ann Nathan Gallery, Fitzpatrick shows and discusses the significance of this long-practiced but often ignored art form.