Sunday, July 18th, Baldwin, NY, out on Long Island sandwiched between Valley Stream & Freeport is Keith Ciaramello's Kustom Kulture Ink Tattoo & Fine Art Gallery, the east coast's answer to Ed Roth & Ed Hardy's studios.
Both Matthew & I played hooky from the shop & loaded up the car with easels, paint, brushes, canvas, & other weapons of mediocratic destruction. Wisely deciding to journey out late at night after fielding a day of work at our own studio, we found that the choice of hotels on southern Long Island to be somewhat wanting. Three hours later, with poor Matt crashing on a couch that was rescued from a dumpster & me hogging a bed made from the hides of wet dogs, we caught a restful five hours of sleep, more than enough for the challenges of painting shoulder to shoulder with a handful of the top peers on the tattoo industry. Although I fear that the ghosts of the poor souls who had been killed in our room in the weeks prior to our visit will haunt our sleep for decades.
Keith had put together this Paint Jam months before, trying to untangle the mess that is a tattoo artist's crazy schedule,... seems like all of us had just moved, open a shop, just got back from several trips, gallery shows, conventions, & personal onslaughts. The final roster stacked up like this,... the two members of the Seppuku shogunate, our beautiful host & beat poet Keith Ciaramello, Scott Winskye, who came up from Kentucky, but is talented enough so we forgave him for that, Chris Dingwell, who I fear is secretly cheating on my partner behind my back, & I fear may start cheating on my partner in front of my back, Keith's lackey Jared who was stripped of a last name by the courts, & a camera crew who were recently fired from the offices of Screw magazine.
The idea was to blow through a full painting in the course of one day. In this day & age of a saturation of mad talent & overachieving artists stacked up like cordwood, this is no longer as challenging as it would have sounded just ten years ago. On one hand, we have canvases hanging in our studios that have over 100 hours into them easily. On the other, we have people like poster guru Stanley Mouse & tattooist slash fine artist Jeff Gogue doing live alla prima oil paintings from start to finish in less than two hours. So, the idea that we'd lock ourselves up on a stunning Sunday afternoon walking distance from some of the nicest beaches littered with the nicest bikini models in New York, crammed inside an art studio with all stars who's skid marks are more detailed & refined than an hundred other artists, seemed like an exercise in masochism.
But we are not your femmey emo hipsters wearing girl's jeans two sizes too small. We are Seppuku Tattoo. So we manned up & gave our brothers a little sample of our Wu Tang Style.
To keep us off our game, during the paint jam we were dragged out of the studio & into a small interrogation cell where they sweated us under the lights & beat a confession out of us. A squad of thugs that the Soprano's casting agent rejected for being too comically stereotypically guinea to be believed tried to throw their weight around & pry the darkest secrets of our scarred psyches out of us. I know that right now in a basement hideout somewhere off Sunrise Highway, Ciaramello is ripped out of his brain huffing painting solvents, watching these tapes & laughing at my pain.
Ten hours later, we tapped out. Chris & Scott finished their paintings, Chris proudly bragging 'last one to arrive, first to finish',... talented and superfast,... Matt, Jared & myself came damned close,... & Keith,... well, he barely started, preferring instead to spend most of his time shoving everyone in a barrel & verbally assaulting them sexually. But we all are confident that his painting will look stellar,... this October.
Here's a sample of the shenanigans. Or at least the images we cam post without a flurry of injunctions or divorce papers. Can't wait to do it again. Just need a few months to heal so I can sit down comfortably again.