Sacramento's urban tattoos are a labor of love

This article originally appeared in Sacramento News & Review about 10 years ago. At that time, these murals were raising quite a stir, even at City Hall. The fear? Oh, that people would perceive them as graffiti. Imagine that! And now, well, now murals (urban tattoos) are totally the rage. Wow, why didn't I think of that? I photographed dozens of these urban tattoos before and after the article appeared. Sadly, many of them no longer exist. Painted over in the name of progress or simply a lack of vision. So glad these incredible works of art live on in my photo archives.

Marekt muralSacramento has finally come into its own. The Central City is evolving, and Midtown is emerging as a swish and swanky scene for every age (and not just the 20-something crowd). 

Urban dwellers and visitors ought to note there’s always something new to see. Lately, it’s been a visual cornucopia of what should be viewed as art in public places. Not the usual sort of government-commissioned art, but a collection of 21st-century murals cleverly and appropriately dubbed “urban tattoos” by Bonni Shasky, a local landscape designer.

One has to love this innovative wall art. Its edgy and funky appeal makes less attractive buildings seem born again. And our wonderful City streetscape is taking on a far-out chic appearance that is strangely reminiscent of the ‘70s psychedelic. 

Labor of Love 1 Credit Barbara SteinbergThe first of these urban tattoos appeared on an unsightly corrugated metal garage at 21st & O streets. Entitled, “A Labor of Love,” it pays homage to the nearby Limon’s Barber Salon. The artist, who prefers to be known as 2Hermano, was also working out some love issues of his own which he resolved through his own labor of love – painting. Whether it was timed or planned, this first urban tattoo inspired a collective of artists to get busy adorning structures throughout the city. 

AmerMarket 3 Credit Barbara SteinbergWith the approval of building owners, artists 2Hermano, Shaun, Daniel, Josh, Miguel, Steve, and Max (there may be others) have given everyone a new reason to walk. Not just during the Second Saturday Art Walk, but every day. Retro, free-hand spray-painted images now embellish Two Women & an Armoire and American Market
 & Deli. At Bon Air Market & Deli, their new urban tattoo playfully promotes sandwiches, sodas, and Sacramento’s skyline and includes the likeness of the store owner’s son.

A collaborative-work by Shaun, Daniel, and Miguel, on the 24th Street side of American Market & Deli, a peacock, a woman soulfully singing, and a modish chick – friend of one of the artists – is probably one of the most colorful tattoos. And the market’s shabby interior is enlivened by Shaun’s Frida Kohla 1 Credit Barbara Steinbergfanciful forest of trees with faces, blowing autumn leaves, and a young girl with wind-swept hair. A once less-inviting environment is welcoming and full of life.

Over on Del Paso Boulevard, the half-face of Frida Kahlo bedecks a wall at Sol Collective an arts and cultural center located at 2010. Other examples of this new urban street art can be seen on display inside. To be expected, not everyone embraces this art scene. Someone complained to the City about Frida, but fortunately she lives on. The artists have specifically chosen images to balance this art form so “not to frighten people” – to make it more acceptable. The point isn’t to encourage tagging and unsolicited graffiti. 

   Are You That Woman

There is wine and then the Amador cookie the best ever

BarberaJourneying today to the annual Barbera Festival, I have many things on my mind including the sights, sounds and tastes of incredible wines and foods at this highly-regarded event. The highlight, of course, is California's unsung varietal wine, Barbera!

The Barbera Festival is an outdoor wine and food festival highlighting Barbera varietal wines from more than 70 wineries from throughout California and beyond, including the Sierra Foothills, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Paso Robles, Livermore, Ventura County, Lodi and the Bay Area. In addition, noted area restaurants and chefs will again offer prepared gourmet food for sale, and over 60 vendors of art and artisan crafts will be showcasing their wares.

Nibby cookie Andrae's BakeryWhile I'm heading for a long day of festivities and feasting, my journey must include Andrae's Bakery in Amador City. I am really not big into desserts or chocolates; yes, I know it's sacrilege by some people's standards! But I have to tell you, Andrae's has created this irresistible Nibby Cookie- chocolate, hazelnuts, and cocoa beans -- that is just about the yummiest thing this side of Heaven. I will not be deterred. These cookies will be mine. Also, a stop at Fine Eye Gallery in Sutter Creek will round out a perfect day exploring Amador County.

That said, better get going. Long day ahead and my Subaru is waiting.

Are You  That Woman

Elk Grove Subaru

If my Subaru can't get me there, that's a good reason not to go!




Mickey Abbey, Artist, Custom GlassWorks at High Hand

Mickey Abbey and Wonder Woman Credit Are You That WomanMickey Abbey, a Sacramento native and Midtown dweller, started his stained glass art business more than 40 years ago at 18th and L streets. Next door to Mario’s Italian Cellar, now Crepeville, Custom GlassWorks survived changing times, while other familiar Sacramento haunts faded away. Mickey’s Wonder Woman (circa 1982) which graced the Crocker Museum and the glass canopy over Kupro’s Craft House are Midtown landmarks.

In his own words:  "I took a painting class at San Francisco State and discovered my art DNA. After four years working in Macy’s Union Square display department, I returned to my Sacramento roots. You come home because it’s comfortable.  Back in the day, Midtown was happening. We were just a group of guys doing a craft shop – Beginning – with woodwork, metal, sculpture, and stained glass.  There was nothing else down here at that time. 

I have come full circle doing today what I did in the '70s. Work and live in my studio, the doors open, impromptu music. It hasn‘t changed much. There weren't so many people living down here and everyone gathered at a handful of places – most no longer exist. Now, the choices are unlimited."

Mickey GlassNever one to be idle, Mickey continues to create and share his art. A new display at High Hand Nursery & Cafe in Loomis features more than 20 original stained glass works of art. All pieces are available for purchase or have the glass master design something custom. The possibilities are endless. You'll be smiling wide the first time sunlight shines through and streams a rainbow across the room. Find time to visit Mickey at High Hand Nursery & Cafe. It's a true destination – art gallery, cafe, nursery, flower and gift markets – a day-trip adventure.



Are You  That Woman

Elk Grove Subaru

If my Subaru can't get me there, that's a good reason not to go!