Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Art of the Tatoo - Portland Art Museum

Altering your looks is the status quo of our culture. Makeovers are featured in most every magazine and for the financially backed, an entire menu of plastic surgery lite and full course options abound. Change and reinvention are firmly embodied in the flesh around us.

After seeing Marking Portland: The Art of the Tattoo at the Portland Art Museum June 20 - Sept. 7, 2009, the choices offered by the question of change and reinvention expanded. Tattoos are the tool of choice for many Portlanders seeking to express themselves beyond a nip, tuck or new hairstyle.

My daughter, Isabella and I spent the afternoon in the Portland Art Museum, ending our stay with a rest on the benches downstairs and the slide show that was the exhibit, Marking Portland: The Art of the Tattoo.

Sitting on the bench was the Checkerboard Face Man. I introduced myself to him and he was very gracious regarding my interest in his tatoos. His name is Matt Gone and he's an artist who has used his body as his canvas, covering everything except his gums and palms of his feet with tattoos. Willamette Week featured a great piece describing his motivation and life experiences as a completely tattoed man.

Matt posed for me, pulling up his pant legs and shirt to expose his body covered in a checkerboard pattern of tatoos interspersed with colorful motifs. He's an affable man with quiet and unassuming body language that is at odds with his flamboyant markings.

I admire Matt's dedication to his personal vision. In the Willamette Week article Matt says that his wish is to preserve his skin for display after he dies. For Matt, reinvention never stops.

1 comment:

  1. As a human canvas he is indeed a work of art. Ouch!
    I do believe the blank canvas is the better art. I have yet to see a tatoo that made me not long for the pure aura of skin underneath.
    Compare the naked human body to the unincumbered vista of the ocean; where you can look for miles and see nothing man made. Then an oil platform or ship, comes into view, and the vista is limited once again by a man made object. Somehow, clothing and tatoos and jewelry have the same impact for me on the body. Of course wrinkles can interfer as can the puff of obesity.
    Your untatooed or pierced, Aunt Peg