Friday, August 31, 2007

No Scratchers Exhibit Update

On a Saturday night in January 2007, a new Metropolitan DC gallery opened its doors in the Anacostia area. In its inaugural show, promo, and soft opening, The Honfleur Gallery hosted an exhibit entitled "No Scratchers." No Scratchers was an informal exhibition highlighting works of art created by D.C. tattoo artists. The show was curated by Imani Brown (tattooer, artist, and photographer). Lenny Campello (noted DC arts celebrity) also donated some of his works.

No Scratchers was a great success, drawing in approximately 250 - 300 people. The gallery sold four pieces of work by Renee Woodward (currently represented at NPR's Jackie Lyden did a segment on the exhibit. Gallery Associate Director Amy Cavanaugh commented that the show seemed so cutting edge for DC, and that in another locale, it would have been more mainstream. It's possible that in DC, the art world is a little less adventurous and more controlled.

The majority of No Scratchers artists were tattoo artists. In general, they seemed to love the publicity and the exhibit. No merger of this sort is without its obstacles. There may be a bit of adjustment needed in reconciling value differences between the sometimes legalistic and mechanical operations of a gallery versus the free-spirited, non-conventional artistry and creativity of many ink slingers. Despite the show's success, the gallery reported minor frustrations in challenges they encountered in various logistics and paperwork.

"No Scratchers" is derived from the term "scratching," - code for tattoo artists who do bad work. No bad work was found amidst the 60 pieces including photos, paintings, mixed-media works, and sculptures featuring the tattoo culture as the theme. Ms. Brown is currently associated with Pinz-n-Needlez (, a local tattoo parlor, and credits Andrea Hope with this show photo.

Brown says to her, scratchers are those that do less than top quality work, are not focused on the art perspective, and tattoo only for the money. Brown says a tattoo artist has one chance to advise the client, create the best piece, and get it right the first time. Since the show, she states she has had a lot of positive feedback with many awaiting the next exhibition.

Honfleur is located at 1241 Good Hope Road SE, in historic Anacostia. To make an appointment to view the spaces, contact or call (202) 889-5000 x 113. One of Honfleur's more notable goals is to raise money for more arts programming for youth in the area.