Revisited: A Tribute to Flash from the Past is a fascinating history lesson, not only by showcasing what was in the past, but what was absent. A number of years ago, Don Ed Hardy (those were tattoos before they were shirts, kids) collected flash sheets from around 1900 through the late 1950s and presented them in his now out-of-print book Flash from the Past.
Last year, tattoo artists Steve Boltz and Bert Krak asked modern artists to take the original flash sheets from Hardy’s book and, using modern painting methods and their own eccentricities, redo them for their book Revisited: A Tribute to Flash from the Past. What hangs on the walls are reproductions from this text.
Perhaps because of copyright, or a McDonalds-esque edict about not opening two stores too close together (Hardy’s clothing store is less than a mile away on Melrose), the original flash sheets aren’t presented, which would have been a nice addition to the show, allowing visitors to compare the original to the remake. The owners of Canvas L.A., a gallery space/clothing store, loaned me a copy of Hardy’s book, and I flipped back and forth to find the original of the flash sheets in front of me.
While those who stayed almost dot-to-dot true to the original are captivating – Juan Puente didn’t stray far from C.J. “Pop” Eddy’s 1930s originals with naked Betty Boops and flapper girls – it’s the artists who departed that are most alluring. 1950s tattoo staple Earl Brown’s black ape carrying away a non-struggling (naked) white woman is revisited by Martin Lacasse as a terrifying white Abominable Snowman stealing a (naked) afro’d African woman, the only in the show.
Canvas L.A. is located at 441 N. Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.canvasla.com.