Matcha: Japanese Tattoo Exhibition. Asian Art Museum.
Tattoos fascinate me. From the early design stage, a blurry half-formed figment of an average joe’s imagination, to an oozing scab of a masterpiece (or not so much a masterpiece, sometimes) forever embedded in your skin, every element of the process has me transfixed. So, when I read that the Asian Art Museum was having a live Japanese tattoo exhibition, complete with live demonstrations and FREE green tea tasting, I was pretty much sold.
First, I’d like to say – Well done, Asian Art Museum. Way to strategically blend the innate curiosity of human nature with the universal appeal of taboo art to bring people together, to build bridges. The hallways are bustling with all sorts of people, a fine heterogeneous mixture of life experience – old, young, hipsters with their white v-necks and plaid, studded, leather-clad bikers, suits. Techno, Asian-inspired fusions, courtesy of DJ Saiman, permeate the air for our audio pleasure. The night’s stars are tattoo artist and author, Takahiro “ Horitaka” Kitamura and a handful of artists from his San Jose shop, State of Grace Tattoo. The artists are set up on the ground floor, roped off from the 80-some people eagerly watching dragons and koi come to life. While most of the artists use a tattoo gun, a single artist, Horitomo, is working on a full sleeve using the traditional Japanese hand tattooing method, where he taps the ink into the skin. I know, amazing.
So, aside from the fact that I felt like I had walked in on something intimate, like these artists were on display (almost zoo-like, really), the tattoos were, undoubtedly, true works of art and it was a pleasure to witness their creation. Damn, I’m ready to get inked again…