Not your standard art gallery, the Ohio Tattoo Museum works not only to preserve and archive tattoo history, but also to chronicle and pay homage to the men and women who worked to revolutionize the world of tattooing. Honoring a wide array of styles, methods, influences, and mediums, the Museum will be an ever-evolving gallery and gathering space that will highlight the greats and their work.
Thanks to the popularity of tattooing in today's world, it has left the shadows of its past and stepped into the limelight of mainstream expression. Sadly, however, those who know the history behind the flash and the machines that we see today are in the minority. The Ohio Tattoo Museum works to enlighten those interested aficionados on those who came before; the people who contributed to the building and refining of the art form that is tattoo.
Evolving and revising our former space, the new location of the Ohio Tattoo Museum is virtually double the square footage, and is primed for more interactive and informative components. With features including a functional tattoo studio, a theatre, and never before seen exhibits-- the museum and collection are sure to impress all of our patrons.
Along with the displays in our gallery space, and the ongoing additions to our website, the Museum will house an archive and database of our permanent collection that will be available to those conducting research and/or other museums. Licensed copies of pieces from the collection are available to qualified parties for publications, as well.
With 3 shows annually, we will work to bring in guest speakers and artists who complement the focus of the exhibit. Blending permanent collection items with other rare pieces on loan from other collections, shows will concentrate on the legacies and art of venerable tattooists and the styles that help shape and shade generations. Not limited to shows that celebrate individuals, socially centered themes and displays will also be showcased.
Featured exhibits for our premiere year will be:
Stoney St. Clair
- Tattoo pioneer, Leonard "Stoney" St. Clair, got his start in the late 1920's tattooing and sword swallowing in the circus. Despite his physical limitations due to rheumatoid arthritis, Stoney successfully tattooed for over 50 years and made a name for himself in the tattoo world.
- This show features original works from our permanent collection as well as loaned flash sheets from collector Durb Morrison.
- Al Schiefley's name ought to be much better known than it is. Beginning in the 1920's, Schiefley was a main anchor in American tattooing, a contemporary and associate of the American legends like Charlie Wagner, Paul Rogers Milt Zeis, Cap Coleman, and Huck Spaulding. He was one of the few who carried it through the lean years.
- The Ohio Tattoo Museum is the foremost collector of the Schiefley Legacy. Our permanent collection shelves approximately 75% of the contents of the Schiefley shop, including machines, flash, pigments, power supplies, photos, correspondence, and much more.
Building and collecting for a museum is not a lazy man's job. Rich is constantly on the lookout for fresh museum meat. Over the years, he has acquired serious veins of original material from two of the region's most prominent pioneer ink-slingers: Al Schiefley and Leonard "Stoney" St. Clair.
The Ohio Tattoo Museum features rare machines that run the entire gamut; gems from masters like Charlie Wagner and Percy Waters down to obscure, antique units whose makers remain shrouded in mystery. The long glass display cases also contain rare old power supplies and switches, pigments, photos, cards and paperwork. Rich even managed to haul in the dummy rail from Schiefley's studio.
The museum's walls are adorned with a magnificent display of vintage flash that must be seen.
Risks and challenges
One of the greatest advantages that the OTM has, is its expansive archive. A diverse collection, the permanent collection houses pieces from many artists and collections. That being said, many of the debut shows are essentially ready. Another advantage, is that this is not the first run for the OTM, merely a reincarnation of a successful gallery into an all-new, bigger location.
- As with many museums, creating a gallery space can prove challenging. Our intention, with the help of sources like this Kickstarter, is to create an entirely self-sufficient, patron-backed space that is not only visually stimulating, but also interactive. Another benefit to patron involvement is the opportunity and availability to share access to archival materials and information for patrons and for those conducting their own research.
Truly, there are no real risks in creating the new space. The museum already exists, in a smaller venue. This new space allows us to not only expand the visibility of our permanent collection, but to bring in new, ever-changing exhibits.
- (45 days)