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Visual Arts: Tattoos On View At Oceanside Museum Of Art

Above: Sally Thornton checks out Matthew Vanerin's tattoos.

For the second year in a row, the Oceanside Museum of Art brought together the art world and the tattoo world for an evening that included a runway show of men and women with tattoos on their backs, chest, legs, arms (commonly called sleeves), and posteriors (ouch!). The show featured work by some of the leading body artists in Southern California.

I decided to drive up to Oceanside on Saturday night to photograph the Masterworks of Body Art exhibit. I wasn't the only one. It was standing room only in the upstairs gallery during the runway show, and every time I turned around, cell phones were held in the air as attendees snapped photos.

Well-heeled patrons happily mingled with a large shirtless contingent, who generously kept their body art on display for up-close viewing.

The whole evening was curated by Chris Winn, owner of WinnTattoos, and apparently known for his traditional and Japanese inspired designs.

I don't have a tattoo for many reasons, not the least of which is my fear of needles. Imagine how I cringed at the demonstration of a traditional "tatau" procedure using Polynesian hand tools instead of a tattoo machine. The poor, willing subject was laid out on a raised platform in the corner of the museum lobby. Freewind, a tattoo artist who specializes in this traditional practice, tapped two sticks into a needle that pressed ink into the guy's upper chest to create the design. A woman rubbed the guy's feet throughout the process, in a sweet but probably futile attempt at distraction. See photos of the procedure in the gallery above.

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