The Art Gathering L.A. show was held June 4-5 at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The event brings together the cultures of tattoo and art. It showcases world-level tattoo artists working live in an enormous showcase area, plus a curated exhibit of paintings, drawings and sculpture produced by people traditionally seen as being only tattoo professionals. Though the main draw is people getting tattoos and watching tattoo masters from around the world at work (this massive Art Gathering at the Queen Mary is like “the Coachella of tattoo art”), the art show that goes with it is also remarkable. This year, a visitor might have thought that the organizers had a political theme to the show: the usual anti-corporate and anti-war images were overwhelmed by pictures that addressed the current presidential election. And though Hillary was depicted as a Sea Monster, the Joker and a child playing with nukes, most of the fear and loathing was directed toward Donald Trump. Images of Trump — as the title character from the film The Predator, as a Nazi, a zombie, a bird of prey and even as a time-traveling thought inside Lee Harvey Oswald's brain — occupied much of the exhibit hall. The mainstream art world, by and large comfortably progressive and liberal, might be more subtle in its expression of politics, but the type of art unjustly maligned as “lowbrow” in display at Art Gathering L.A. perhaps tells us more (and more directly) about the current nightmares that this unprecedented election is provoking in the American psyche. All photos by Gustavo Turner. Follow @gustavoturner on Instagram.
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