It’s Woodstock week. In Sullivan County, that’s a pretty big deal. My plan for this weekend is to stay the hell out of what I’m deeming ‘Ground Zero.’
The people will be too much, the traffic will be too much, and honestly, I spend so much time at Bethel Woods throughout the summer, I don’t feel a need to make a trek there on a certain date to make myself believe I was a part of it.
I am a part of Woodstock 50.
I’d like to think in my own way, I’m a big part of things that have gone on this summer. Not officially big, but big enough for me. I’ve taken thousands of photos. Thousands. Last week I think I took 3,500 alone. Sure, not all of them are keepers, but they’ll be sitting in my archives for when Woodstock 75 rolls around. (Or for my kids…or even grandkids…to look at when Woodstock 100 rolls around.)
Besides the numerous photographs and stories from Bethel (Alice Cooper really did pull my hair last Thursday), I’ve also been showcasing the history and people of Woodstock in the print edition’s Woodstock Chronicles. I tried to give the section a different feel, look and vibe. Something reminiscent of the design styles of the day.
The 50th Anniversary playing cards was my big project for the event. From conception to design and back, I put in long hours trying to make them something people would actually want. (And if you want a pack… a little piece of my hard work… click here.)
All of this hippie vibe in my work made me pay attention when someone mentioned a tattoo artist was coming back for a guest spot during Woodstock Week.
I think my exact words were, “EILEEN!!! WE SHOULD GET A TATTOO TOGETHER!”
Yes… it really needed to be all caps. I said it with THAT much enthusiasm.
Eileen, of course, readily agreed. (And I’m pretty sure she had the time booked before the last word left my mouth.)
So, Wednesday we left work a little early and headed to meet Bill Galante over at Janet's Kozmic Groovy Shop in Bethel, NY.
Now, if you’ve never stopped at Janet’s place on 17B, you should… even if you’re not in the market for a new tattoo or piercing. There’s jewelry and other things to shop for and the vibe is just… I’m gonna say it… cosmic.
Bill was waiting for us; setting up his space for Eileen to go first. Eileen preferred to go first. The anticipation (according to her) is just too much to handle. She wanted to get it over with. I didn’t mind going second. Waiting gave me time to watch, to talk and to photograph.
Some artists don’t want cameras in their shop. I don’t argue if that’s the case. So, before pulling the camera out of the car, I asked Bill if he minded. “Nope, go for it,” he said as he continued to prep.
And so I did.
As Bill tattooed Eileen, he and I talked about shooting, riding motorcycles and photography. Turns out, not only is Bill a great tattoo artist, he’s an awesome photographer.
There’s something about photographers. We each see things a little different. Some see lighting, some see textures, some see overall pictures. We compared some photos, and styles and admired each other’s photos.
And then, Bill got to work on my tattoo. It was small. Only around 4 inches long. Compared to the rather large piece I got on my thigh this spring, it was actually tiny. I chose a treble clef, with a peace sign and a heart. They’re interwoven and make for an interesting piece.
I had settled on my right ankle area and let Bill decide where it should go. In my mind, He could see it better and had tons more experience. His reply was, “It’s your body… you tell me where you want it.”
I gave him the general idea and said, “Put it where you think is best and if I don’t like it… we can always move the stencil.” Spoiler alert: It stayed where he put it. We also discussed my ideas for color. He wanted to know if I wanted it red, or if I had something else in mind. I explained my color concept and said if it was too difficult in a small area like that, a solid color would be great too. He decided to mull it over while he outlined. I agreed.
He got to work with the outlining and we chatted a little more about things as he went. I took pictures as he tattooed, thinking that chronicling my 50th anniversary tattoo was historic (at least for me).
When the outline was done, we went back to the color discussion. “Like tie-dye? Or gay pride flag?”
I laughed, “Like my hair.” He looked up at my hair and disappeared for a few minutes.
His return brought a rainbow, which was then perfectly blended into my skin poke by poke. I took photos of the progression of color, marveling how he faded a perfect gradient of rainbow into my skin. To say I was pleased was an understatement.
He cleaned my leg off and we both admired it for a minute before wrapping it up. He reminded me to take care of it and waved his hand as he said, “just like you did with all those others.”
Eileen, Bill and I took a photo together and I thanked him again and promised to send the photos off to him the next day.
I made a new friend, got a new tattoo, and had a great night celebrating Woodstock and the 50th anniversary.
Now, onto next week!