Black and white and art all over

Tattooing and artistry go together or at least they should: nobody wants someone devoid of artistic talent wielding a tattoo needle. So it isn’t surprising that Studio Phi a tattoo shop that opened last August has partnered with House Gallery to put on a six-week long art show called Black & White. “I love being a part of the fine arts community I love having a good time and I love throwing shows” says Matthew Brunning a tattoo artist at Studio Phi who co-curated the show with House Gallery’s Derek Bisbing. “It’s just to bring people into the shop get them comfortable let everyone have a great time and see what art comes out of it.”

Black & White is the second art show Studio Phi has hosted the first being a grand opening art showcase last fall. Collaborating with House Gallery has helped both organizations tap into artists they might not otherwise have reached. “He [Bisbing] had a bunch of artists that we weren’t in contact with” says Brunning adding that the idea was “Let’s team up let’s put our resources together and open it up to new artists.” All told Black & White attracted over 70 artists with about 90 individual pieces of art.

The theme for this show doesn’t come from anywhere particularly symbolic. “It’s just my lack of imagination” says Brunning referencing a previous purple-themed show at House Gallery that left a lot of room for interpretation. He hoped that Black & White would be similarly open-ended. “It turned out wonderful nobody has done a [collaborative] black and white that I know of.”

As you might expect the majority of the work in the show is black and white (although a few colour pieces did sneak in). Even within that restraint the work is diverse: from photographs of nudes to caricature-like ink drawings from a melted glass skull to greyscale mandalas and spooky forest scenes to three-dimensional mixed-media pieces. There are also a some sculptures jewellery digital art and fabric art.

Some pieces that particularly reward a few extra moments attention are Tiffany Wollman’s long scroll-like work that lists dozens of word pairs such as “need>want” — simple juxtapositions that open larger questions. Also the work of fourth-generation artist Lobsang Tseten trained in traditional Tibetan art accounts for some of the few colour pieces in the show. His work includes holographic elements meaning that the paintings warp a little depending on the angle from which you view them.

The art will remain on the walls until the end of July although seeing it sooner rather than later is recommended. As a commercial show all the art is for sale and plenty of it is already claimed by buyers.

Besides the opportunity to sell their work the artists have enjoyed being part of the show too. The opening on June 21 attracted hundreds of people to the studio and as Black & White isn’t quite the usual gallery show it wasn’t quite the usual gallery crowd either. “There is a lot of positive and high energy here” says Brunning. “All the artists that took part and were able to make it had nothing but good things to say.”

Those who missed the opening party are welcome to see the show anytime the studio is open. “Most people who do come in here off the street find it’s a very comfortable warm atmosphere” says Brunning. It isn’t your typical gallery nor your typical tattoo studio so you can leave stereotypes at the door. Tattoos not required.