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Craft and Folk Art Museum Shows a Little Skin—and Ink

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Before the 1950s, ink and tattoos used to be reserved for sailors, inmates and gang members—certainly not for sorority girls and suburban moms. Tonight CAFAM—The Craft and Folk Art Museum—opens an exhibition that showcases L.A.'s tattoo art, as well as its history and culture.

In trying to bring together fine art and tattoo art, L.A. Skin & Ink showcases “flash” (tattoo drawings on paper and board), photographs, equipment, art and ephemera. Participating artists include: Bert Grimm, Bob Shaw, Don Ed Hardy, Cliff Raven, Jill Jordan, Leo Zulueta, Jack Rudy, Charlie Cartwright, Estevan Oriol, Mr. Cartoon, Edgar Hoill, Lucky Bastard, Zulu, Carlos Torres, Sergio Sanchez, Shawn Barber, Camila Rocha, Sean Cheetham, and more.

It's an educational experience of sorts, too, as visitors learn the historical context of the art. In the mid-20th century, tattooing skills were developed through apprenticeship and by repeating the same patterns—so it's no wonder that hearts, daggers, dragons and names (aka "Mom") were popular in the early days. (As seen in many movies of the time with a heavy or a thug.)

CAFAM offers free entry to the opening reception tonight from 6-9 pm to anyone who shows their tattoo at the admission desk. For those without ink, admission to the party is $12.

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L.A. Skin & Ink runs through Jan. 6.