Big Art, Small Spaces

Roll Call Newspaper published an article yesterday about art galleries around Capitol Hill, including the gallery at Britishink Tattoo Studio & Gallery, where I currently have a few things hanging:

Big Art, Small Spaces

April 18, 2007
By Bree Hocking, Roll Call Staff

Find Emerging and Traditional Art in Area Galleries

Spring is a season of fresh beginnings — time to rethink the decor of your apartment or develop a more sophisticated cultural acumen. That said, the Capitol Hill area and its environs are home to a number of art galleries — from the quirky to the traditional — that can help set you well on your way to accomplishing both goals.
Here’s a look at the scene at some of the galleries Roll Call surveyed.

britishink tattoo studio and gallery
508 H St. NE
Hours: By appointment only until April 30; Beginning April 30, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday
It isn’t every day that a gallery owner asks if you want to see a nude photo of his wife.
But then English-born Paul Roe’s britishink tattoo studio and gallery on H Street Northeast is hardly your orthodox exhibit space. Just off the gallery rooms are three upscale tattoo studios, where Roe and his two-person staff create their own skin-based art on clients.
“It’s all, in my consideration, fine art,� said Roe, who studied fashion design in England before permanently moving to the United States 15 years ago after meeting his American wife, Regina Fantucci, through the City Paper while on vacation here.
After stints as a graphic designer and as the headwaiter and assistant sommelier at the St. Regis Hotel’s old Lespinasse Restaurant, Roe decided to take up tattoo. For the past four years, he’s operated out of a private studio in Northeast Washington performing his art on everyone from lobbyists to Congressmen, he said.
The red-walled gallery and tattoo studio, which set up shop at the beginning of March, is open by appointment only until its official unveiling April 30. (Roe will mark the occasion with a reception that day from 6 to 8 p.m. featuring tea and the artists whose work is on display.)
Roe, who said he will rotate out the art every four to six weeks, kicks off his gallery with a group show featuring Dana Ellyn’s cryptic and sardonic portraits of everyone from a blind boy to a heavily pregnant suburban Madonna-esque teenager; black and white photographs by Angela Kleis and Min Enghauser; and painter David Michael Conner’s stunning renderings of city streets and psychedelic dwellings. There’s also a wall of flash (stock tattoo images), which includes several of Roe’s own designs (he also makes some of his own tattoo machines), as well as a mixed-media portrait of the late punk rocker Sid Vicious by Roe.
Once things get going, Roe, 39, has an ambitious vision for the intersection of traditional art and tattoo — “the primal parent of the visual arts,� he asserted. He plans to give lectures this summer up the street at Dissident Display Studio and Gallery on the relationship between tattoo and modern design and to bring in photographers, filmmakers and even a portrait painter to capture the tattooing process, the product of which will later go on display. He’s also working to create a tattoo sleeve based on a painting by artist Matt Sesow (Ellyn’s boyfriend), which he will transfer to the arm of a local drummer. Eventually, he said, both the panoramic photos of the drummer’s arm and the painting will hang side by side in his gallery. The studio also has been asked to participate in this summer’s Capital Fringe Festival, an off-beat D.C. arts festival.
As for that naked picture of his wife?
He whips out his business card, which features his bare-backed wife, a policy analyst at the Government Accountability Office, displaying some of his art work: an enormous tattoo of a peacock whose colorful feathers artfully extend to her buttocks.

Read the whole article here.

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