Tag: Topeka

End Of The Green: College Of Crows - Oil Painting By The GYPSY

The Artist Life: Topeka Spring Eve

Daffodils and Peonies lift up their scent from the garden below

Through the window their fragrance drifts poignant and ever slow

The sun settles towards the west drawing with it the last light

Shadows creep across the floor chasing the day from our sight

 

Soft breeze rustles the blinds, music swaying the slats and cord

Wood grain trails from wall to wall changing with each board

Mindless chatter touches the dusty air around the empty time

Coffee, tea and laughter fight on the screens electric vertical line

 

Images fade to a small gray dot as the oak box is shut off

Cracking, popping its protest as I exit the door of the loft

New leaves wave as I pass under their light green ceiling

Young grass dances upon the walkway blind and unfeeling

 

Houses of white, gray board and brick fade behind a tree

Structures of granite, marble, and stone loom ahead of me

Car radio blares out Broadway, a street in a city far away

As I step upon broad Kansas a street in this city today

 

Light glows green, mocking the color of Topeka’s Capitol dome

Autos suddenly stop their engines belching protest as I roam

Lines in a sidewalk try to jump forth and break my mom’s back

I dodge and weave counting steps so I may avoid each evil crack

 

Old people stare at women where men browse and children play

Searching for the news, fiction or just a thing too important to say

The smell of tomes, newsprint, candles, candy, ink old and stale

Fills the fluorescent glow of the interior where the world is for sale

 

Casper, Superman, Batman and Wendy reach to me from the rack

Richie Rich, Mighty Mouse, Flash and Spooky beg me from the stack

I flip the pages as the four colors explode into tempting allure

Nightmare, Green Lantern, Black Hawk, or Dot I’m just not sure

 

My choices are made held secure and close to my heart within one arm

The rest returned to their slant seat awaiting for the next soul to charm

Silvery coin to clerk, butterscotch stick in mouth I leave with my treasure

Turning towards home I direct my step anticipating hours of pleasure

 

The red and white machine looms ahead wherein the green bottle lies

Dime in the slot, Twist of the handle to hear the slide and out it flies

Cap popped off as the fizz escapes and tiny bubbles fill the dusky sky

Icy cold the syrupy liquid sharp and sweet burns the throat till I cry

 

In one hand the bottle kept intact for the two pennies it has earned

In the other hand the magic paper whose pages wait to be turned

Red sky turns purple as blue lights high above hum to dull glow

The cobbled walk tries to trip my step as it leads me home too slow

 

Upon my porch the round orb above casts it’s yellow and hazy light

As moths and their cousins dance and swarm within their endless flight

The brown, rusty springs stretch on the end of the porch swing chain

Screaming their protest as my weight settles in  the seat that I claim

 

Lost with Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey and Louie within a vault

I sail away until mother calls me to bed, until tomorrow I shall halt

But upon the sunny morning I shall again be whisked far and away

As Hot Stuff, Green Arrow and Lottie jump forth and ask me to play

 

And when the magic has been used up within the pages faint and torn

Again shall I visit the World News Stand where my mind can be reborn

-The GYPSY-

The Scent Of Lilacs Oil Painting By The GYPSY

The Artist Life: The Scent Of Lilacs

Drifting on the breeze
A scent that puts my soul at ease
Lilac fragrance fills the air
Triggering memories of time without care

Delicate blossoms on the sprig
Not long they’ll last what joy they bring
One bush here another there
Signals of spring sight and smell to share

Grandpa loved the flower
In it’s color there laid such power
When I was just a child
The bush he planted grew so wild

Outside my bedroom window
The bush would bloom and ever grow
Never again to be shorn
As each spring its scent would be reborn

Now my paint brush
Tries to capture the fragrant rush
Of my own Lilac bouquet
Whose color and scent hold me sway

And when the canvas
Has taken my color within each crevasse
Then the scent of Lilac
Will be captured and kept intact

And I will have painted
Pure nature, perfect in essence and untainted

A scent that puts my soul at ease
Lilac fragrance fills the air
Triggering memories of time without care

Delicate blossoms on the sprig
Not long they’ll last what joy they bring
One bush here another there
Signals of spring sight and smell to share

Grandpa loved the flower
In it’s color there laid such power
When I was just a child
The bush he planted grew so wild

Outside my bedroom window
The bush would bloom and ever grow
Never again to be shorn
As each spring its scent would be reborn

Now my paint brush
Tries to capture the fragrant rush
Of my own Lilac bouquet
Whose color and scent hold me sway

And when the canvas
Has taken my color within each crevasse
Then the scent of Lilac
Will be captured and kept intact

And I will have painted
Pure nature, perfect in essence and untainted

TopCon Pop Expo 2020 Banner

TopCon Pop Expo To Artist Alley Studio

TOPCON POP EXPO to ARTIST ALLEY STUDIO

Changes come from unexpected places and as the old saying goes “God works in mysterious ways.” So it was with the death of TopCon Pop Expo and the birth of Artist Alley Studio.

When the Covid-19 Pandemic hit TopCon was well on track for our seventh year. When I created the event in 2014 I had never imagined that it would grow to the size it did. In our seventh year we had contracted to bring Animaniac’s in Concert to the Topeka Performing Arts Center. The main event would be held in the newly remodeled Exhibition Hall at the Stormont-Vail Events Center. To top it all off the Greater Topeka Partnership was talking with us about making TopCon Pop Expo a weeklong event.

While we were gearing up for TopCon Pop Expo 2020 we were also moving the Artist Alley Studio out of the NOTO Arts District out to our current location on Southwest Topeka Blvd. We had outgrown our space in the Amused Gallery where we were renting a studio room. It was time for me to come out of semi-retirement and go back into tattooing and piercing full time.

My wife Raychel and I had combined our LLC’s and had made the transition from Skin Art Creations Tattoo Emporium to Artist Alley Studio Tattoos and Piercings. We were remodeling our newly acquired storefront and we were on track for an April 1st opening. Then the world shut down on March 25, 2020. Everything came to a screeching halt and life became an uncertain future of what-ifs and maybes. We would have to wait until the quarantine was lifted to open the studio and TopCon’s future was uncertain.

During the shutdown the news came down that the Coronavirus Pandemic would be around for an unknown period of time and would get worse before it got better. We decided to cancel TopCon for 2020 and concentrate on getting Artist Alley Studio going in the direction it needed to go. On May 18, 202o the Artist Alley Studio opened, and we were on the road to recovery. We held hope that TopCon Pop Expo would return in 2021.

As we moved out of 2020 and into 2021 we started plans for TopCon Pop Expo 2021. We had lost the opportunity to host Animaniac’s in Concert so we were looking at other possible acts for TPAC so we would not lose our deposit. We were also working with the agent for Animaniac’s in Concert since we had paid a large deposit with his agency, and we did not want to lose that either.

We were faced with many obstacles that were becoming harder and harder to overcome. One Con rescheduled their event for the same weekend as TopCon had always been. Plus plans were made to have the delayed Topeka Saint Patrick’s Celebration on the same weekend also. We moved TopCon from the 3rd weekend in September to the 2nd Weekend in October to avoid the competition and possible low attendance.

Business was good at the Artist Alley Studio but the future of TopCon was uncertain. TopCon Pop Expo’s fate was sealed with the news that we could expect a new surge of infections in the Fall. Between the risk to public health and the mask mandate not to mention most Con’s had already experienced low attendance in our new Pandemic world; we pulled the plug on TopCon Pop Expo.

By the time we refunded our vendors and cancelled contracts losing the deposits we experienced a $20,000 loss. This loss effectively killed TopCon Pop Expo and we laid Topeka’s First Pop Culture Convention to rest. There would be no reschedules; it was over. It was time to move on.

We have since poured all our efforts into making the Artist Alley Studio the best it can be. We have also renewed our faith in God and become more involved in activities at our church; Topeka Bible Church. Whether it is our Tattooing and Piercing Services, our in studio and online store or our Art Gallery both physical and online we work hard to progress and offer the best we have.

Part of our transition was within our newsletters. We migrated people that had signed up for the TopCon Pop Expo newsletter over to the 3 Artist Alley Studio newsletters: At Needles Point, The Artist Life and Free Art Fridays. We hope that the fans and friends we made with TopCon Pop Expo will continue to be our fans and friends with Artist Alley Studio.

I personally like keeping in contact with our newsletters. I can share news and interesting info with our subscribers, and I feel like it is a more personal form of communication that goes far beyond social media. Long before social media was a thing we communicated and socialized through emails and email newsletters. I have noticed a trend back to this form of social communication and I am proud that Artist Alley studio can be part of it.

If you enjoy our newsletters and you think you know someone else who would enjoy them, please feel free to share our subscription link. We also hope that you enjoy our efforts with Artist Alley Studio enough that you will share our Tattoo and Piercing Services with other as well as our Artwork and websites.

Thank you so much to those who supported TopCon Pop Expo during its existence and Thank You to those who continue to support us and our Artist Alley Studio. May God Bless and Keep You and Yours Always.

-The GYPSY-

1963 Spacewalk Revisited By: The GYPSY

The Artist Life: Am I A Figment Of Your Imagination Or Am I One Of Yours

AM I A FIGMENT OF YOUR IMAGINATION OR AM I ONE OF YOURS

As I sit here watching the words appear upon the screen of my laptop I have to ask myself; Does life imitate art or does art imitate life?

I remember drawing a man walking in space. I carefully rendered the image with my 6 year old hand upon the Manila paper with the fat crayons. I remember getting a Dixie cup full of water and dipping my paint brush into the clear liquid. I moistened the small pat of blue paint and soaked my brush with the azure liquid. I rinsed the brush in the water turning it light blue. Dip, moisten, rinse, dip, moisten, rinse until I was satisfied with the shade of blue within the cup. I then started brushing the diluted water color across the surface of the paper; back and forth, forth and back I went until the large sheet of paper was covered. Years later I would learn that this was called a “Wash” but on that day I was just was trying something new.

Did I know that I was supposed to do this or did someone tell me how to do it? The sands of time have coated my memory and fogged my vision. What I do remember is my first grade teacher, Miss Pyle, making a big deal out of it. I remember the picture being on display in the Clay Elementary School hallway for a long time. I remember my Mother and Grandmother excitedly telling me that my picture won the number one place in the State of Kansas. I did not understand what that meant but they were excited and happy so I acted excited and happy too.

I remember a newspaper reporter with a big camera taking my photo and asking me how it felt to know that I was the number one artist in my age group in the country. I remember two years later when the same reporter asked me; “How did you know two years ago that man would walk in space?” I remember my Mother and Grandmother being so proud that my simple picture was on display in the Smithsonian Institution. I remember asking, “What’s a Smithsonian?”

My Mother once looked at me and said; “I don’t trust you, when I am old you will put me into a nursing home and leave me there to die.” I argued that I would never do that and that if she ever did need to be in a nursing home I would not abandon her and just “Leave Her To Die”. She did not believe me and said, “Your sister will take care of me, unlike you.” I told her, with as much conviction as my 15 year old mouth could muster, “Pat will not take care of you but I will.” When the time came Pat did not take care of her… I did.

How did I know Man would walk in Space? How did I know my Mom would need me one day? I have known these things and so much more about my life. I once heard it said that life is a canvas upon which an unfinished painting resides. No one knows what the next brush stroke may bring. But within my life the canvas is not unfinished; I know what the next brush stroke will be and where I will put it.

I cannot tell you why or how that I know what the painting of my life will be I just know that it is. Sometimes it weighs heavy on me, this knowing. I often feel like that Astronaut, coupled to his capsule by a thin life line as the void of space beckons. He cannot be distracted by the darkness around him; he must forever keep his eye on that silver metal life raft which floats high above the planet of his birth. Some day the space man will re-enter his capsule, secure the hatch and plummet at 185 miles per hour like a shooting star back from whence he came. But today he will not fall back to earth; today he shall live in a crayon Universe and swim in a wash of blue in manila space.

-The GYPSY-

Pore Richards Watercolor Painting By The GYPSY

The Artist Life: Pore Richards

“Pore Richards”

Watercolor Painting By Romani American Artist J.A. George AKA: The GYPSY

As a child my Saturdays and summer breaks centered around youth activities at the YMCA located, at that time, at SW 8th and Quincy in Topeka, Kansas. The youth area was in the basement of the one time USO building and was a virtual boys club. No girls were allowed in this sacred area that included pool tables, lounge area with large color television, which most homes did not have at the time, hobby shop ran by the wise, talented and noble Mr. Anderson and an Olympic size swimming pool.
Activities included Judo lessons, handball, basketball and trampoline in the gymnasium. Field trips ranging from tours of Frito Lay and Coca Cola to Flights on small planes at Billard airport. My first flight on an airplane was captured on a front page story in the Topeka Capital Journal during one of these field trips. And let’s not forget swimming lessons from Louie the Lifeguard (I eventually obtained the Junior Life Saver level after Louie threw me into the pool after I refused to swim but that’s another story for another day) and open swimming in the afternoon when the pool became no mans land.
Yes, for a boy the YMCA was a world filled with opportunity, education, wonderment and fun. Now days there is a parking lot located on that southwest corner that was once a bastion of a boys life yet that is not what this posting is about, no it is about the business that once sat at the opposite corner from the YMCA; Pore Richards Beer ’N Stein Café.
When I would walk to or leave the YMCA I would always notice the big black sign with the neon lettering and the caricature of the funny little Hobo on top with his “Toe Peek A ing” out of one shoe. I had always assumed that the silly little Hobo with the large round spectacles was the fabled “Pore Richard”. I always found it funny that the adult who had made the sign did not know how to spell the word “Poor” and I wondered if Mr. Richard had been upset when he first saw the sign.
There was never really anything about the sign nor the exterior of the building that would appeal to your appetite to invite you in yet it was a Topeka tradition and a Topeka gathering place. My grandmother would sometimes take a business lunch in this mysterious restaurant that was off limits to one of my tender age.
Yes, almost everyday of my young life I saw Pore Richards and his image became such a familiar sight to me that even to this day when I hear the term Poor Richards Almanac a vision of the funny little Hobo comes to mind.
I had vowed that one day, when I was an adult, I would have a “Beef ’N Stein” in the famous Café. But alas, that was never to be. As with so many things and places held dear to so many peoples heart “Pore Richards” passed into history and the pages of the past.
Sometimes I think about the iconic sign and wonder what happened to it. Is it collecting dust in someone’s storeroom that swears, “I’m going to do something with that someday!” or was it recycled for the metal that was in it. I personally would like to see it in a museum where future generations can smile at the friendly little Hobo but barring that I think the recycle scenario would be the best thing that could have happened to the sign.
I smile when I imagine the stoic little Hobo being the front grill of an expensive recreational vehicle rolling down the highway, freed from the confines of the sign and doing what a Hobo does; traveling the highways and the byways of America. I lift a Stein to you my dear unknown friend and your memory; Pore Richards.

-The GYPSY-

Along The Shunga Trail Oil Painting By The GYPSY

The Artists Life: Along The Shunga Trail

“ALONG THE SHUNGA TRAIL“

Oil Painting By Romani American Artist J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

I get bored easy. Because I get bored I have to constantly be doing something which may explain my artistic nature. I create to keep my hands, eyes and mind from becoming too idle. But I do not create the same things over and over again for to do that would once again bring me back full circle to boredom. So it is that as I create I explore. I explore new ways of doing what I do best; Create art.
When I was a child growing up in Topeka, Kansas I explored not knowing that my explorations would bring about a lifelong need to see what was behind a closed door or around the next bend in the road. Growing up always near or by the Shunganunga creek which meanders through the Capitol City afforded me many opportunities to explore, learn and reach out to a world I would embrace not only as a child but also as an adult.
Long before Shawnee County Parks and Recreations conceived of a pathway following the Shunganunga there were those, like myself, that knew of and explored the many twists and turns that ran alongside the creek. Shawnee County did not create the Shunga Trail, it has always been there since the beginning of time; all they did was to cover it with concrete and put up pretty signs.
So it was as I started out to create my painting, “Along The Shunga Trail” that I sat out to explore a new path I had not traveled before. I usually will create the background for my paintings using acrylics. They are fast drying and allow me to move ahead quickly with my oils on the foreground. With this painting though I had in mind to create the entire scene using oils and a pallet knife. Unfortunately for me however that exploration led me down a path that I did not enjoy.
I laid the canvas to one side and stepped away from it, my attention drawn off on to other adventures and other artistic explorations. Then one day I placed the canvas back onto my easel and let it occupy my mind for a few days. I let it call to me, pleading to be explored and finished. Today I answered it’s call.
Forever the explorer I looked at the path I was to create and follow and thought to myself; What can I do different? Looking at the textures the failed attempt with the pallet knife had left on the canvas a solution came to mind. I determined that the best way to forge this trail was to create the scene with one brush. When I paint I usually use a large assortment of brushes to complete a painting especially when I am painting a scene. Yet this day I would attempt to explore my memories using one simple brush; a number 6 half inch flat synthetic bristle brush.
As I child I would poke and prod at the tadpoles and crawdads that inhabited the calm pools along the banks of the Shunganunga. As I had once poked and prodded at the creatures of the creek I poked and prodded at my canvas until I was satisfied that my hand had captured what my eye had seen within the flowing waters of my mind.
So without further ado I present to you my newest exploration; “Along The Shunga Trail”.

-The GYPSY- January 21, 2022

“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”

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"Fritz Durien Hall Of Fame Warehouse" By: The GYPSY

The Artists Life: Fritz Durien’s Hall Of Fame Warehouse

THE ARTISTS LIFE: “FRITZ DURIEN HALL OF FAME WAREHOUSE”

Water Color on 9“ x 12” Cold Press Paper By Romani American Artist J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

What Carry Nation did to keep Kansas dry, Fritz Durien did to keep Kansas wet. From his Hall of Fame Saloon Topeka Barkeep Fritz Durien kept stashes of the good stuff at various locations under the floor boards of his Saloon. Not one to go down easy Ol’ Fritz fought the battle against Kansas Prohibition all the way to the high court.

The photo that this painting is based on struck me for it’s stark simplicity of an act of defiance. Fritz is not making a grand gesture rather the gesture is simple and speaks volumes. You can almost hear Fritz thoughts as he stashes his treasure; My customer’s will not go thirsty. But more importantly neither will I. 

Fritz’s battle with the government hit’s close to home for me. I also had a battle with church people and a city government that wanted to close down my little neighborhood tavern in Baxter Springs, Kansas because of the evilness of liqueur and beer. I fought the good fight but eventually grew tired and moved on. Fritz also eventually gave up the good fight, closed his Saloon and headed off to Germany. In a strange twist of ironic fate the “Hall of Fame” Saloon went from selling hard liqueur to selling soda pop after Fritz had left the building.

-The GYPSY- July 7, 2021

“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”

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Copyright Tatman Productions LLC – All Rights Reserved. No pictures or text may be copied and or used without the express written permission of the artist and author.


Please Visit Our Sister Sites: Artist Alley Studio & GalleryAblazable.comArtist Alley Studio Tattoos & PiercingsArtist-Alley.Pixels.com

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The Contract

THE CONTRACT

I sat in the chair in front of the enormous desk holding the contract in my hands. Across from me, hands folded in front of him, sat the man in the suit and the tie with the Windsor knot that had handed me the contract.
I had just read article 15, which stated to wit; any and all work that I did over the next 15 years belonged to the greeting card company that was wanting to hire me as an artist. I looked at the man and thought how ridiculous his blue and red striped tie looked against the dark green of his suit. His eye glasses reflected the light, he looked like a Christmas tree with a sparkling tree topper.
The date was January 5th 1976 and I had just graduated midterm from my high school. I was taking college art classes and was not really sure what direction I wanted to go in life. The one thing I was sure of and the one thing I had always been sure of ever since I was a young child was that I would be an artist. Nothing else in the world interested me more than art. To spend my life creating art was my idea of a life well spent.
I laid the contract on the man’s desk and set back in my chair. He studied me and I studied him. “Well, what do you think?” he asked. What I thought was, “How did you get my portfolio?” I suspected that I knew how he had got my portfolio. My well-meaning mother, whose dream it was for me go to work for this well-known and well-respected greeting card company had probably sent it to them. That is what I wanted to ask the living Christmas decoration sitting across from me but what I said was, “Let me get this straight, any and all work I do over the next 15 years belongs exclusively to your company. So does that mean that if I paint a mural and hang it over my fireplace that you can come into my home and take that painting?”
He stammered, “Well technically…” I cut him off, “This is a simple yes or no question yes you can, no you can’t.” The human Christmas tree shook off some loose needles, cleared its throat and said, “Well theoretically…” I cut him off with a wave of my hand as I stood up, “Well theoretically”, I said turning towards the door, “I’m going to have to think about it.” Mr. Xmas jumped to his feet. “We are really interested in signing you; the contract will be here when you are ready to sign.” He pointed at his desk indicating the stack of neatly typed papers that lay upon it.
Over the years I have thought about that contract laying on his desk and I have wondered to myself; I wonder how dusty that contract is? Because I knew when I stepped out that door and it closed behind me that I would never be back.
I was 19 years old at the time and as I rode down in the glass enshrouded elevator all I could think to myself was if I had signed that contract I would be an old man of 34 years old by the time it expired. Now there are some people that would say I was crazy for not signing on with the greeting card company, I mean after all with the progressive salary raises that the contract offered by the time it expired in 1989 I would be pulling down $50,000 a year, not to mention accumulated bonus’, benefits and a fat pension package. At that time that was a chunk of cash, even in this day and age it is nothing to sneeze at, yet to me it wasn’t enough to sign my soul away. There is never enough money for that.
As I walked out of the large center that held the offices that I would never be returning to the chill wind sent a shiver up my spine. I stood and let the sunshine try to warm my face as I wondered; is it the wind that makes me cold or is it the thought of what I just turned down that leaves me chilled. There was one thing I knew for sure I wasn’t in a big hurry to return home. My mother’s dream for me had always been for me to go to work for that particular card company but it wasn’t my dream. No I would have to return home and tell my mother that her hopes, plans and aspirations for me were not the hopes, plans and aspirations I had for myself.
As I drove down Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri I looked to my right and my left for some distraction, for something that would allow me to kill some time so that I could delay the inevitable scene that would occur when I told my mother what I had decided. That is when I saw it, the tattoo parlor, I turned the corner and pulled into the parking lot behind the building.
I had never been inside a tattoo parlor, the thought of going into a tattoo parlor had never even crossed my mind let alone the thought of getting a tattoo. On this day my only thought was; let’s go in and check this out and see if it’s just like it is on TV and in the movies. Besides I was looking for a way to kill time and this was as good a way as any.
As I walked into the building the smell of alcohol, soap and cigarette smoke assailed my nostrils. The walls were filled with a mirade of cartoonish looking designs on large cardboard sheets; I would later learn that these were called “Flash”. The only sound inside the building was the music playing from an old radio up on a shelf and ithe nsisted buzzing of the tattoo gun.
In this time and place the terms “parlor” and “gun” were appropriate; that would not be the case in the future when those terms would become archaic and be replaced with studio and machine. But the tattooist who sat behind the counter in this “parlor” tattooing the arm of a man with his “gun” was not only appropriate but descriptive of the atmosphere of this place and the individual whose imposing presence ruled this domain.
I swallowed hard, cleared my throat and then in a voice meeker than I had intended said, “Excuse me sir, do you mind if I watch you work?” Without looking up from the bicep that he was tattooing a peacock onto the tattooist barked out, “Yeah, but don’t talk to me.”
I will not bore you with the details of my long time standing there watching this man tattoo. To go into detail about what he tattooed that day who he tattoo that day and where those tattoos were placed on the numerous bodies that walked in and out of his shop would do nothing but put you to sleep and cause you to stop reading this narrative. What is important to note was that 14 hours after I had first asked Gene if I could watch him and he locked those doors to his parlor for the day I was still there.
“So”, he asked as he locked the door, “when are you going to start learning how to tattoo?” I laughed, “What makes you think I want to learn how to tattoo?” Gene eyed me up and down and shook his head. “Boy let me tell you something I have been tattooing for twenty eight years, I am third generation, my daddy tattooed before me and his daddy before him. Nobody, and I mean nobody stands for 14 hours straight with their mouth closed watching me work that doesn’t want to learn.”
I was a 19 year old kid who thought he had all the answers, who believed that no one knew what was going on in this whole wide world any better than he did. I looked at Gene smirked and said, “I’ll have to think about it.”
“Yeah right”, he said, “I’ll see you in the morning.”
The drive home between Kansas City and St Joe that morning seem to take longer than usual. My mind was working overtime weighing, balancing, determining, and desperately trying to see into my murky, crowded and unknown future.
Around 4 a.m. I walked in the door of the apartment that I shared with my mother and sister. My mother sat on the couch waiting for me a stack of magazines and newspapers next to her. She jumped up as I entered the apartment and almost, no doubt in her excitement, screamed, “Where have you been? Where have you been? What did they say? When do you start work for them?”
I took off my coat and dropped it over the back of the chair by my mom’s priced piano. I turned around and faced her; you could not miss the look of excited anticipation on her face. I cleared my throat and said, “I’m not going to work for them.” The look of excitement left my mother’s face and was instantly replaced by a look of confusion. “What do you mean you’re not going to work for them? If you don’t go to work for the greeting card company what on earth are you going to do?” Mustering up as much of my manly nineteen-year-old fortitude as I possibly could I looked my mother dead in the eye and said, “I’m going to be a tattoo artist.” She promptly screamed and fainted.
My grandmother took it a little better then my mother did. When I phoned her to give her the news and I told her what I had decided. There was a slight pause on the other end of the line, I heard her exhale and then she asked, “Will it make you happy?” I said, “Yes ma’am it will.” My grandmother said, “Well then that is all that matters.”
In my 40 year career I have had many milestones, many accomplishments and many let downs. I have always chosen to not dwell up on the downside of my career but rather on the upside and what I have been able to give back to a profession that has given so much to me.
I have three associates degrees; forestry / wildlife management, technical illustration / mechanical drafting and psychiatric technician.
I have had the first tattoo studios in St Joseph Missouri, Abilene Texas, Midland Texas, San Angelo Texas, Baxter Springs, Kansas, Iola Kansas and Independence, Kansas. I also had the first legally registered tattoo studio in the state of Oklahoma and from 1995 – 2010 I was the officially recognized tattoo authority for the Osage Nation.
I was the first person in the state of Kansas to actually go to school to learn how to pierce and learn how to do microdermal implantation, what is commonly referred to as cosmetic tattooing.
At one time it was believed that you couldn’t tattoo over scars. In 1977 I was allowed the opportunity to practice scar cover up on a gentleman that had been burnt over three quarters of his body. I spent a year working on his arm and taking notes. I developed a procedure that worked for covering up his heavy scar tissue with tattoos and I wrote a paper on it in 1978. Tattoo artists that cover up scar tissue today may not know where the technique came from that they have learned to do but that’s okay. Because it gives me satisfaction to know how many people have been helped because of work I did in 1977 and 1978. Recently I heard of a tattoo artist in Ohio who is donating their time to cover the scars of victims of severe trauma. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to hear of other people in my profession giving back with something that I helped develop.
I promoted, organized and sponsored the very first ever tattoo convention in Kansas which ran from 1993 – 1997.
I have been a senior zookeeper, a soldier, a truck driver, a bar owner and a school bus driver. I have driven ice cream vans, been an art teacher, actor and common laborer.
Together with my wife I founded Artist Alley and American Ghost Riders (a paranormal research group). I am an artist, an author, an illustrator, and a psychic.
I ran for the Kansas State House of Representatives in 2006 and I am the creator and executive director of Topcon Geek Expo.
I have donated of my time, my energies, my talents and my self to numerous civic and charitable causes. I was the Chairman of the Baxter Springs Joint Historic and Beautification Committee. I have sat on the board of Directors of the Baxter Springs Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Kansas Tourism Region and 4 State Tattoo Association. I was an Explorer Scout Adviser and a Children’s Art Teacher. And through all these things I have done and been I continued my Body Art career practicing my love of Tattooing and Piercing.
In 2008 I became one of only 27 people worldwide that had taken and passed the Alliance of Professional Tattooist Tattoo Mastery test.
In 2009 I was appointment to the Kansas Board of Cosmetology, by Governor Mark Brown, as the representative for the body art industry in the state of Kansas.
I have one of the first websites ever on the Internet dedicated to tattooing and piercing I have owned the www.ubtat2d.com domain since 1994. I am a resident expert on body art on www.allexperts.com and I have written numerous articles about tattooing and piercing as well as doing the lecture circuit disgussing body art safety and ethics.
From 1988 through 2010 I owned several different state of the art mobile facilities and worked the show and event circuit during the summer months. Arizona to Kansas to Oklahoma to Missouri to Ohio I traveled, I tattooed, I pierced. South Dakota to Arkansas to New Hampshire to Iowa to Texas I did the miles and I did the art. Pennsylvania to South Carolina to Nebraska to Wyoming to New Mexico I left no road untraveled and no client unmarked.
I have given countless television and radio interviews as well as appearing and starring in movies and television documentaries about tattooing, piercing and the paranormal. I even share top billing in a movie with Peter Fonda, Jim Dandy, Greg Alman, Willie Davidson, Slaughter and Paul Revere.
I have won numerous awards and accolades for the tattoo art I create both nationally and internationally.
I have artwork in the Smithsonian institution as well as in museums in Kansas and elsewhere in the United States. I am even part of an exhibit about American art that is featured in a traveling Museum in Australia.
My art and the career that I chose to follow have put food on my family’s table, clothes on my children’s back and a roof over my family’s head.
I am an old school tattoo artist and proud of that fact; I make no apologies to anyone for the art I create nor the style of that art. I do not compare my work to others and I do not appreciate it when others compare their work to mine.
All artists no matter what medium they work in have their style. You cannot compare Van Gogh to Renoir, you cannot compare Michelangelo to Rodan and you can not compare Sailor Jerry to The Gypsy. All have their styles, all have their niche and all have they’re separate following. The type of art I like is not the type of art that another person may like and vice a versa.
I have been practicing my tattoo art 40 years now and truthfully I am tired. It is not that I am tired of tattooing because I’m not. It’s not that I am tired of creating art because I am NOT. What I am tired of is ignorance; ignorance that comes from rudeness and the rudeness that comes from disrespect.
For 40 years I have dealt with the truly ignorant, the truly Rude, the truly disrespectful and and with the widespread popularity of social networking the trolls have become even more ignorant, rude and disrespectful and I am just tired of it.
It is an unfortunate statement on our society that you cannot educate those who refuse to be educated. I know, I have tried to educate people but while some learn others close their eyes, they close their ears, and they close their minds. Those are barriers that you just cannot pass through and I am done trying.
That is why I have decided to pass on the torch to younger and more enthusiastic members of the body art community.
In the near future I will be retiring from body art. I will go back to where it all started; I will lay down my tattoo machine and pick up a paintbrush and my art will have come full circle. So it is with life everything comes full circle and there is no beginning and there is no end.
In my career I have apprenticed 18 people; out of those 18 people 3 proved their worth. It is to those three that I will leave my legacy my hopes and my dreams to. My final chapter will never be wrote because within all those I have taught, touched and loved in my life and in my career my story will continue.
They will take all that they have learned from me and they will expand it, they will improve upon it and pass it on to those who want ti learn and will further expand on and improve the world of Body Art just like I did with what I learned. I will live on from generation to generation and the ethics and passion I contributed to Tattooing and Piercing will live on also. Because just as I drank from the spring that formed me so too did they drink from the spring that formed them and those who come after them will drink from their spring.
So when that day comes that I do announce my retirement do not mourn for what has ended rather rejoice with me in what has begun. Because baby you ain’t seen nothing yet.
-The GYPSY: Master Tattoo Artist