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Posted: January 4, 2017

Tattoo Extravaganza at Centre 64

By Mike Redfern

The new exhibition of body art in the Gallery at Centre 64, Personal Portraits – Stories in Ink, breaks new ground for this gallery.

It features 37 framed prints of tattoos on various parts of the anatomy of 15 models, both male and female, photographed at Centre 64 by Cranbrook photographer Neal Panton. Most but not all are in brilliant colour, are expertly designed and inked, and many tell interesting stories. All, without exception, are beautiful works of art. If, like this writer, you have not indulged in the art of tattoo for yourself, you will probably be surprised, if not awed, by the quality of the images on display.

Photos submitted
Photos submitted

The exhibition has been planned, organized and funded by Kimberley Arts Council’s visual arts committee in collaboration with the photographer. Committee members Linda Douglas, Noreen Shaw, and Margaret Moe, together with Centre 64 administrator Christine Besold, recruited 15 models in Kimberley, many by accosting them on the street and in local stores, others by calling on known residents who they knew sported particularly beautiful body art. Not all the models are residents of the community, some just happened to be visiting, including one lady passing through from the USA. As a result, the tattoo artists whose work is represented in these photographs are working from studios in Calgary, Canmore, Lethbridge, and Victoria as well as Cranbrook and Kimberley.

Panton spent 95 hours photographing and editing the pictures. Those selected by the committee for inclusion in the exhibition were then printed, matted and framed by Cranbrook Photo. Each print is 16” x 20” in a 24” x 28” frame and is displayed with a photo and brief bio of each model involved. Copies of prints are available for sale although the framed prints on display will be retained in order to be available for future exhibition in other Kootenay galleries.

This is not the first time Neal Panton’s photographs have been featured in Kimberley. In 2016 he received second prize in photography at the Dirt Bag Festival and in 2015 part of his series of pictures of hands were a special feature of the In Focus exhibition of photography at Centre 64. In 2010 and 2012 he received second and third prizes respectively in the Arts on the Edge established artists’ exhibitions at Centre 64, and his work was featured in the Rails to Trails show in 2012 and the Art of Dance exhibition in 2010, also in the Gallery at Centre 64.

Much more impressively, however, Panton’s photographs have received awards and nominations in such diverse locations as Beverley Hills, Los Angeles and Santa Fe, USA, Paris, France, Surrey and Vancouver, and in Australia. He has had solo shows in Okatoks, Alberta, in Cranbrook, Vancouver and Maple Ridge, BC, in Hamilton and Dundas, Ontario, Philadelphia, USA, Quito, Ecuador, and Ljubljana, Slovenia. His work has featured in group shows in B.C., Ontario, the USA, Peru and Ecuador and has been published in a variety of journals and catalogues.

The Personal Portraits – Stories in Ink exhibition at Centre 64 opened on Tuesday, January 3, and will run until Saturday, January 27, available for viewing each Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.

A special reception will be held in the gallery this Saturday evening, January 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. which the public is invited to attend free of charge to enjoy the appetizers and refreshments and to meet the photographer and some of the models who will be in attendance. This is a unique show of excellent photography capturing the inspired body art of professional tattooists displayed on some charming and attractive models.

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