AE3The Sierra Arts Foundation is currently showing “La Cultura De Los Tatuajes,” an exhibit presenting artwork from local tattoo artists. “La Cultura De Los Tatuajes” investigates tattoos as their own form of art and celebrates Hispanic culture.

The artists include Jorge Pintor, Alberto Rivas, Brian Chambers, Canyon Webb, Matthew Fernando Carrol Madrid, Shaun Hanna, Mike Curatello, Ramon Moncho Lopez, Jay Gonzalez, Jonnie Evil and Tony Medellin. These artists work at a variety of different local tattoo parlors, such as the Reno Tattoo Company and Lasting Dose Tattoo and Art Collective. 

“We had been in discussions with a couple different tattoo artists who sent in proposals,” said Sierra Arts Foundation’s Gallery PR Marketing Associate Eric Brooks. “Our scheduled artist had to cancel his exhibition and we decided to move forward with a contemporary tattoo exhibition featuring Hispanic-themed work. I located the artists and we worked together to have a balanced room that would give insight and understanding to every level of visitor, regardless of their personal connection to the subject matter.”

Much of the art contains traditional Aztec imagery, including the rose, serape, skulls, day of the dead and snakes. Each artist incorporated these with his own interpretation and style. Visitors can learn about different symbols and the meanings behind them.

“A quarter of Washoe County is Hispanic,” Brooks said. “This rich, vibrant culture isn’t represented in our arts as much as it should be…This exhibition allowed us to explore the importance of tattooing in the Hispanic culture.”

Canyon Webb, one of the contributing artists, has been tattooing for ten years. After growing up in Reno, he moved to Oregon five years ago to work with his mentor Jeff Gogue. There he got to work with hundreds of guest artists from around the world, exploring new styles and learning a lot about himself and what he had to offer the medium. Now, he has returned home to Reno to share his expertise.

“Reno has a diverse group of artists and tattoo artists and we should reach out more to the community and art community because we are relevant to the changing culture,” Webb said. “The unique perspective of a tattoo artist should be explored because of our reach toward so many types of clients, cultures and people.”

According to Statistic Brain, 36 percent of all U.S. adults ages 18 to 26 have tattoos. What was once perceived as taboo is not only seeing widespread popularity but is becoming revered as its own form of aesthetic expression.

“As with any of the disciplines of art, tattooing takes time, practice, dedication and the fundamental knowledge of line work, contrast and color,” Brooks said. “It is an incredible skill to transition this through a vibrating needle gun and into someone’s skin. And unlike painting and so many other genres, you can’t make a mistake and start all over again”

“Tattoos are becoming more approachable,” Webb said. “Tattooing and the art of it is becoming validated by fine artists. Many of the new generation of tattooers are broadening their horizons by learning many mediums, letting fine art spill into the craft of an imperfect art like tattoos. Artists are digging deeper into older, more timeless cultures so that tattoo designs are staying more relevant and timeless.”

“La Cultura De Los Tatuajes” runs at the Sierra Arts Foundation until Feb. 24