Friday, March 12, 2021

There’s always a story… "Tattoo Tattoo" at Hofheimer Gallery

Dianne Mansfield, SuzAnne

The weather in Chicago has finally become comfortable—perfect for getting outside and seeing actual people. With a sunny sky and high temperatures in the 60’s, I couldn’t wait to venture out. And that’s just what I did—this past Saturday—when I visited the exhibition titled “Tattoo Tattoo” at the Hofheimer Gallery. “Tattoo Tattoo” is a group show anchored by the work of George Klauba and Eleanor Spiess-Ferris—two of my many favorites at Hofheimer. 


As I explored the space, I came upon a group of black and white photographs documenting full body tattoos. And they seemed to be just that—straight forward documentations. As I continued through the space, I found a second series of photographs, set aside in the back of the gallery. These seemed to be done by the same artist, but they were different. They radiated emotion. The images captured an unabashed reality—a personal moment of self-empowerment. The images are the work of Dianne Mansfield. I asked if Dianne was attending the reception and she was pointed out. Within a minute, we were involved in conversation. 


After a brief introduction, we stepped away from a small group, to have a more private exchange. Discussion of the exhibition quickly transitioned into stories about the people represented in her imagery. With sparkling eyes and some colorful language, Dianne revealed another gift—her amazing ability to tell a good story. 


A photographer and educator, Mansfield has spent a good portion of her life photographing the world in which she lives. The tattoo culture is an important segment of her world and she has documented the unique personalities within that sector. 

Dianne Mansfield, QM KTK 083, 1982

Referencing one of the images from the show, Mansfield told me of a friend who supported herself as a fully-inked stripper. In the image, a gorgeous woman is presented wearing a sweeping silk robe—exposing her everlasting markings like a hand-painted bodysuit. Incredibly comfortable in her embellished skin—she is dignified, daring judgement from anyone.

Mansfield told many stories that afternoon. In fact—at one point—we stepped outside so that we could continue our conversation without masks. A colorful character with an amazing history, I look forward to our next meeting.

“Tattoo Tattoo” will continue at Hofheimer Gallery through March 27. The group exhibition includes work by George Klauba, J. Adams, Ivan Soyars, Leo Zulueta, Mario Desa, Chad Koeplinger, Danny Reed, Eleanor Spiess-Ferris, and—of course—photographer, Dianne Mansfield. Hofheimer Gallery is located at 4823 N. Damen, Chicago, Illinois 60625  847.274.7550 

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