By GRACE GAGNON
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is on display at the Musee du Louvre in Paris. Michelangelo’s artwork is painted upon the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Oil paintings by Claude Monet line the walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
But great art isn’t just found in chapels and European museums. Great art can be found right here in Bristol, envisioned and created by local artists.
Chad Lockhart, the owner of Hartford County Tattoo, provides local artists a sanctuary for their own art within the tattoo shop. This Friday (Feb.24), Hartford County Tattoo will feature a debut night for its new art gallery.
Lockhart and his wife, Tricia Lockhart, decided to display local artists’ artwork on the walls of Hartford County Tattoo after finding a common issue while traveling over the past few years.
“In our travels over the years, we have met people from all walks of life, expressing themselves in every form of art available. One common problem we noticed was that so many of these hidden gems were right in our own community and were going largely unnoticed,” Lockhart said in an interview via email.
For artists like Andrea Wadowski, a graphic designer for the State of Connecticut, Hartford County Tattoo’s art gallery is the first time her art is being publicly displayed.
“I have always been reluctant to call myself an artist. I have my own criteria for being able to say ‘yes, I’m an artist and being able to sell a piece made me feel like an artist,’” Wadowski said.
Wadowski said she is more into drawing than painting and works mostly with color pencil. The two pieces she drew for the gallery include a black bird and a still life of bananas.
Every inch of every wall is covered in different forms of art, including landscapes, pictures of animals, paintings, and hand-carved wooden bowls.
Lockhart said he intentionally chose a nonconventional gallery format that allows for each piece to be viewed in detail individually, or as one compelling piece of art linked together when you look at the walls as a whole.
“If each piece of art could talk, their stories would be as different as the artists who created them,” Lockhart said.
Artist Mary Dombrowski, the owner of Marydees Alley, tells her story through color.
Dombrowski, who has five pieces on display at Hartford County Tattoo, said she started working with alcohol inks three years ago and fell in love with them. She said a lot of her pieces are about interaction with color, and many of them are abstract gardens.
To achieve the vivid colors shown in her pieces, Dombrowksi said she experiments with different inks and concentration of alcohol to change colors.
“Color in our world is what I focus on. They’re not representational or photorealistic,” Dombrowksi said,
Wadowski and Dombrowski are both local artists, but Lockhart said the gallery also features pieces from national and international artists.
So far the community has reacted positively to Bristol’s latest nonconventional art gallery.
“We are consistently selling pieces, so it is exciting for everyone involved. It is amazing to see how people respond emotionally to different pieces,” Lockhart said.
Hartford County Tattoo’s art gallery debut night runs on Friday, (Feb. 24) from 8 to 11p.m. Admission is $5 at the door. The evening includes a live model art demonstration by Tainted Inc. of Hartford. Kinsmen Brewing of Southington will provide an artisan beer tasting as well as cupcakes from NoRA Cupcake Company, West Hartford. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Autism Speaks.