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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 28, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 39
Art. Tattoos. Love.
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Art. Tattoos. Love.

True Love Art isn't your typical gallery - or tattoo shop by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

'Art. Tattoos. Love.' A promise of what one might find at True Love Art Gallery (1525 Summit Ave.) on Capitol Hill? The slogan, if indeed it is a promise, is one True Love delivers on. So what makes True Love different?

It's one of the few tattoo parlors on the Hill that's actually Gay-owned, but according to co-owner George Long, 'tattooer' and curator of True Love Art Gallery, that really doesn't matter - and it's not at all relevant to what sets True Love apart.

'I've done just about any tattoo you can think of. I've done literally tens of thousands of tattoos,' said Long.

Long, who always had an interest in art and illustration, took to tattoos in the late '80s after he'd gotten a couple himself and decided he wanted to make a career out of it. He's been tattooing now for 22 years, starting out in Pierce County, where he served military personnel as well as local residents. He made the move to Seattle in 1992.

True Love doesn't feel like most tattoo joints. Those unfamiliar with the scene will immediately notice it's not grungy, but Long says there's something else that's different. He feels that many shops are designed primarily to impress tattoo aficionados and other tattoo artists.

'I really want to impress my clientele, and a broad clientele,' Long told SGN.

ALL THIS, AND ART TOO
True Love is as much a gallery as it is a tattoo studio.

'I wanted to have a large, spacious lobby so people could relax and enjoy their time here even when they're not getting tattoos. I wanted a space big enough to hold art openings and art functions,' Long said. 'I wanted to have a tattoo shop that was welcoming to people who aren't involved with tattoo culture directly.'

With True Love, Long foresaw a place where local artists could show their work and a tattoo shop that was just 'a little different from everybody else's.'

Currently on display at True Love is an exhibit called 'For Work and Play,' which features 'weird' paintings by H. Lee Porter, graphic screen prints by Riley Hoonan, paintings by Glenn Newcomer, and work by Long himself.

'I'm showing a collection of figures made out of discarded doll parts and plastic bottles,' Long told SGN.

As a rotating gallery, True Love is also an active participant in the Capitol Hill Arts Walk. Every second Thursday of the month, George throws an art party and features local DJs.

'We show a lot of Queer artists and we show a lot of straight artists,' Long said.

'The Gay identity of Capitol Hill is dissipating & people are spreading out to other neighborhoods and I think it is representative of the evolution of our community and our culture.'

IT'S ABOUT ACCEPTANCE
It's clear to George that acceptance is at the center of tattoo culture. His clientele is mixed and his staff is mixed. The other owners are Boris Erickson and Mike Gilmore, who bartends at CC Attle's. The shop's apprentice, Stephanie Battershell, does graphic design for the Seattle Art Museum and just recently stated doing tattoo work in the shop.

'She's really talented,' said Long. 'She has a gift for drawing portraits that will translate very well to tattooing.'

The other major artist at True Love is Cosmo Andoloro.

'Even the most bizarre aspects of Gay culture he's right on board with,' said Long of Andoloro.

'The artist and the patron come together for an art project that will be viewed by thousands of people for years to come,' Long told SGN.

For Long, there must be acceptance between the two, because common ground must be found in order to produce a meaningful piece. This, he says, is why tattoo culture is so accepting.

'I think that it's important for us to embrace identities that reflect the neighborhood we live in and I think the identity of our neighborhood is really mixed,' said Long. 'I really don't want everybody to just peg us as 'the Queer tattoo shop.' It could be a misrepresentation if it seemed like we were just trying to market to the Queer community.'

Stop by True Love during Arts Walk or any time, and check out Long and Andoloro's portfolios online at www.trueloveart.com. You can also 'like' True Love on Facebook.

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