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Tattoo Exhibit Sets Sail At Whaling Museum 

Sailor Jerry’s designs.

With roots as a whaling town in the early 1800s, when sailors and fishermen flooded the docks at the small village, it is only fitting that the Sea Ink 2013 tattoo exhibit be held in Cold Spring Harbor.

The Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum and SparkBoom, a local arts project of the Huntington Arts Council, will launch the exhibit “Sea Ink 2013,” featuring nautical body art, on Sept. 21. The showcase will highlight and celebrate the “beauty, culture and significance” of nautical tattoos and will feature original, restored artwork by Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins.

According to SparkBoom coordinator Jennifer Sappell, the event was designed to appeal to younger generations and the kind of art they appreciate.

“There’s art all around us, and art is different for young people… People going and decorating their bodies, that’s art. When tattoos came [up in conversation], it was like, ‘Holy smokes, we gotta do it!,’” Sappell said. “It’s cool and people want to show them off.”

Samantha Sheesley, a paper conservator at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts, will speak at the Sept. 21 event about Sailor Jerry’s influence on elevating the status of tattoos to fine art.

Trish Rongo, marketing and development manager at the Whaling Museum, said Collins played an instrumental role on the 1930s tattoo scene. Rongo said he was best known for his images of boats, anchors, hearts and pin up girls, all designs typically drawn on sailors at the time.

The Sea Ink exhibit will also feature tattoo art by local artists. Guests will be invited to vote for their favorite artist, who will be awarded for their work at the end of the night.

Sea Ink visitors will have the opportunity to use their own bodies as canvases, as artists from Tattoo Lou’s will provide free airbrush tattoos.

Plans for a microbrew beer tasting are also in the works, and The Buzzards, a rockabilly band, will perform live at the museum.

Sheesley will bring six original pieces of Collins art and will educate the audience on Collins’ legacy.

“It’s an absolutely brilliant idea. We wanted to create something that’s relevant to today while still giving a nod to the past history of the museum,” Rongo said.

The Saturday, Sept. 21 event is free to the public but a $10 donation at the door is suggested. Doors will open at the 279 Main St. museum at 7 p.m., and the event will run until 9 p.m.

Submissions from body art artists will be on display at the museum from Sept. 22 through Dec. 31.

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