Living Canvases

Published 11:06 am Saturday, August 28, 2010

A photo of a signature tattoo. The photo will be among several examples of Smithfield resident Lee Poe’s recent project to capture dramatic tattoos sported by people from an array of professions.

SMITHFIELD—The Isle of Wight Arts League’s new exhibit — “Inked: Art on a Living Canvas,” a photographic exhibit of tattoo art — opens from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, during the Smithfield Monthly Arts Stroll.

The exhibit at the Arts Center @ 319 in downtown Smithfield runs through Oct. 31.

Photographer Lee Poe of Smithfield captured the dramatic art works on the living canvases of more than 15 people representing an array of professions from public school teacher to auto mechanic to scientist.

Original paintings, drawings and a sculpture that inspired the tattoos will be displayed along with the photography as will explanatory vignettes authored by Smithfield writer James Thomas Jr.

“The tattoo art as presented by Lee’s images is truly impressive,” said Sheila Gwaltney, director of the Arts Center. “But the additional insight that James relates on the motivations and meanings of the efforts makes for a very compelling exhibit.”

A photograph of this tattoo will be featured in The Isle of Wight Arts League’s new exhibit – “Inked: Art on a Living Canvas,” a photographic exhibit of tattoo art, which opens Friday, Sept. 10, in Smithfield.

Several of the more extensive works were created by Richmond tattoo artist Brandon Saunders. A chance encounter with one of Saunders’ clients connected the photographer and artist as well as several of the artist’s clients. Saunders’ bold and intricate works convey skill in execution, but also reflect a balance of traditional and innovative techniques.

“An exhibit on tattoo art is a departure from the norm for the Arts Center,” said Gwaltney. “But the sheer artistry of the work will captivate viewers across the board.”

The Arts Center @ 319, a visual arts gallery and working studios for eight resident artists, is operated by the non-profit Isle of Wight Arts League. It is located at 319 Main St. Open hours are 9 a.m. to

5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.