ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio – Tattoo legend and local entrepreneur Sweet Chuck will be exhibiting his artwork at the Ohio University Eastern Campus Art Gallery Monday, March 13th - Wednesday, March 29th.
The show is called "Hand Made In Ohio: Works By Hot Rod Tattooing,” and will feature works from Sweet Chuck, the artisans at Hot Rod, as well as some of Hot Rod’s extended family of tattoo artists. An opening reception and artist lecture will take place on Thursday, March 16th, from 6-9pm. In addition, an informal meet and greet with Sweet Chuck will take place in the gallery on Mondays (March 13, 20, 27th) at 12:30pm.
According to the artist, tattooing has stood the tests of time and commercial viability for the last 150 years. As a result, he took a leap of faith and opened Hot Rod Tattooing in a small storefront in Martins Ferry Ohio in 1997. Due to rapid growth, Sweet Chuck expanded into a 3,000 square foot studio and gallery space in 2004, which has allowed him to recruit a number of artisans from around the world.
“Today our Hot Rod family literally has branches that stretch for thousands of miles,” he said. “I have been fortunate enough to see my colleagues and friends expand our message to other studios all over the country. Hot Rod Tattooing has become a hub for talent in the Ohio tattoo culture.”
Sweet Chuck continues, “While voice and vocabulary seem like odd words used to describe tattooing, the fact remains that the visual language spoken through tattooing is as unique as it is recognizable. Dealing with the constraints and opportunities of working on the human body affects everything from design to application-in effect, giving tattoo artists a voice that is specific to this medium. These influences spill out into our other artistic outlets.”
According to the artist, most tattooers work in a wide variety of mediums including painting. “Watercolor painting has been the most prominent secondary outlet for tattooers for over a hundred years. It is widely considered the medium that goes hand in hand with tattooing by tattooers all over the planet. But these extra outlets are not limited to just watercolor, as painting in all mediums has always been associated with tattooing.”
Unique to tattooing is the “do it yourself” attitude of a lot of tattooers. “It’s not uncommon for tattooers to have built their own machines, mixed their own pigments, painted their own designs or even constructed their own studio spaces,” he said. “The recent embrace of this industry by mainstream pop culture has shown a light on the efforts and work that professional tattooers put into their craft.”
“We are one of the last truly hand-made commercially viable and growing artistic mediums. The links to the past and the future run through the Ohio Valley as literally as National Road and interstate 70. This unique “cross roads of America” and the transient nature of art has allowed the Ohio Valley to influence and be influenced by artists from all over and tattooing may be one of the strongest examples of that.”
The Ohio University Eastern Art Gallery displays the works of local and national artists, as well as of the faculty, staff, and students of Ohio University. It is located on the second floor of Shannon Hall and is open to the public 11am-3pm on Monday and Wednesday, 12:30-3:30pm on Tuesday, and 4-9pm on Thursday. Admission is free.
For more information, please contact OUEArtGallery@ohio.edu.
Ohio University Eastern is conveniently located off of I70, exit 213, just west of the Ohio Valley Mall in St. Clairsville.