Ink Well: Artist Shizu Saldamando Goes Solo

From the tattoo parlor to the museum, artist Shizu Saldamando has a classicist’s eye for punk

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Her canvases have ranged from bedsheets and handkerchiefs to plywood and notebook paper, but it wasn’t until she turned to the human epidermis that Shizu Saldamando’s career took off.“The more I showed my work in museums and galleries, the smaller my audience got,” she says. “I needed to find a job that informed my art practice.”

Last year the 35-year-old artist began apprenticing at the East L.A. tattoo parlor Old No. 13, where she learned to wield a tight three needle as deftly as she does colored pencils and ballpoint pens. Nowadays, whether it’s Odilon Redon’s famous eye balloon inked on a biceps or ten panels created for the Metro station at Palms and National, her meticulous style embodies the cross-pollination of classic and pop art.

That fascination with youth subcultures—gay, Latino, punk—and unabashed love of rock stars will be on display at Saldamando’s first solo museum show, a survey of her drawings, paintings, and videos opening September 10 at the Vincent Price Art Museum at East L.A. College. Just don’t expect any works on live skin.

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Joel with Gran Legacy
2013
“This is my friend Joel, who had passed out after a night out. There was something very beautiful and painful in his self-medicated slumber.”

 

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Gerardo Posing
2007
“My friend Gerardo and I were at a lesbian bar, and I took pictures of him dancing. I used oils on cheap plywood with a little bit of glitter for the cigarette smoke.”

 

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Sandy Switchblade
2013
“This piece is of my friend Sandra and her amazing hair. She lives by the mantra ‘The bigger the hair, the closer to God.’ ”

 

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Carm’s Crew
2008
“These are friends from Downey outside some club in Hollywood where they had a reunion of Café Bleu, a British pop club that used to happen in the ’90s.”

 

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