SPRING CITY – At a tattoo parlor, one is used to taking in the designs of body art, but Studio 135 Tattoo and Art Gallery recently held an exhbit to show that beauty is not just skin deep.
Owner John Gowling hosted the studio’s fifth art show at 135 Main St on August 2. Gowling and six other emerging artists displayed their work: Ryan Medd, Mike Welsh, Tom Risich, a young man nicknamed “Bugz,” Caitlin Tschanz and Steven Olzewski.
Gowling has been a tattoo artist for about 12 years, with most of them spent working in the area. Gowling’s passion for art led him to do more than just tattoo designs. He is also interested in pieces such as mural art and graffiti art and has been involved in computer and graphic design.
He recently wrote a letter to 21st Century Media, after a reader in the Sound Off section of the Pottstown Mercury included tattoo shops in comments about what he or she felt was wrong with Spring City in addition to the drug problems and strip club.
In his letter, Gowling wrote, “What I don’t appreciate is how you seem to neatly associate derelicts and drug addicts with my trade in this article. Tattooing has come a long way in the past thirty or forty years. Now, celebrities and everyday citizens proudly show off their lovely tattoos and celebrate the art form. No longer merely associated with outlaw bikers, hookers, ex-cons and sailors. Tattooing has broken through to the mainstream of our culture and has gained much wider social acceptance.”
“I am tired of people talking trash about Spring City,” Gowling said in an interview with 21st Century Media. “Spring City has its problems, but people are trying to do something about it.”
He said he believes if there were more businesses, more people would come into the town.
Gowling said he started the art shows to help promote the shop and draw some business.
“This is a good turnout tonight,” Gowling said the evening of the event. “I am trying to draw people from outside the area to come to the shows.”
The artists were glad to have a place to showcase their talents.
Risich, of northeast Philadelphia, described himself as a graffiti artist. He said he enjoys working on portraits and landscapes. He has a background in art with an associate’s degree in graphic design.
“I love hip hop... ...not the music but the talent ,” Risich said. “The Roots is my favorite band. I like break dancing, MCs and skateboarding.”
Graffiti art is Risich’s ultimate passion with art.
“Graffiti is in my head 24-7,” he said.
Tschanz, a junior from Moore College of Art and Design, showcased several pieces from her spring semester. She said she found out about the show because her stepfather recently got a tattoo from Studio 135.
Tschanz showcased a realistic painting of fruit and several abstract pieces.
“I love abstract paintings because when you put everything together, the elements take on a life of their own,” she said.
Kelsh, of Jeffersonville, likes to include a lot of detail in his paintings and his emotions inspire what kind of painting he is working on.
“I am inspired by whatever I’m going through at that point in life,” he said. “I like to challenge myself. Whatever I think I can’t do I will do.”
Gowling said he plans to host another art show soon. Artists interested in displaying their work can e-mail Gowling at email@example.com or visit www.studio135tattoo.com. Studio 135 is also on Facebook — www.facebook.com/Studio135Tattoo.