It seems inevitable, really, that artistically underrated tattoo artists would eventually invade the downtown gallery scene — they’re charged, after all, with not only the daunting task of flawless execution but also with achieving the sort of on-the-spot originality that will appease even the pickiest patron. And tomorrow night, it finally happens. That’s when Fuse Gallery, on Second Avenue in the East Village, opens “Draw,” an exhibition celebrating those who can do, well, just that. The show includes nearly 200 stunning, hand-scribbled doodles by some of the biggest names in the underground art world, including virtuosos from tattoo parlors, rock clubs, skate shops — and also including some Whitney Biennial alums and Deitch Project superstars.
There will be drawings by alt-rock favorites like Cavalier King’s Chris Taylor and Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers. Other doodlers include Moby, Dash Snow, pro skater Mark Gonzalez, and high-profile album illustrators Rick Griffin (the Grateful Dead) and Eric White (Frank Zappa, Michael Jackson). “I think that the art world in general neglects a lot of these craftsmen for whom drawing is a form of architecture,” says co-curator Erik Foss, who advises patrons to shop to buy. Collectors, including big names like Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, are snapping up figurative works by these vanguard maestros, tattoo artists included. “Thirty years ago, tattoo was looked down upon as this underground, unrefined, poorly run, outlaw-style industry,” says co-curator Curse Mackey. “Now artists, actors, and musicians are buying the hell out of this stuff. It’s edgy, it’s hip, it looks awesome, and it’s a cool investment.”
— Rachel Wolff