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BABY TATTOOVILLE 2009 | by Mark Berry - Photographer & Graphic Designer
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@ The Mission Inn, Riverside, California


Epic in history and architectural splendor as William Hearst’s Castle, the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa boasts the likes of Harry Houdini, Cary Grant and ten American presidents among its famous guests. A palatial pleasure ground spanning 320,000 square feet and filled with a museum of exotic decoration from far off lands, this vastly haunted location is a veritable city in a hotel and the fitting residence for Baby Tattooville, a strange and unique annual art event of micro and mammoth proportions.


On a warm Californian October weekend, somewhere amidst the endless labyrinthine walls of grandeur, a bunch of renegade beatniks, chic bohemians, tattooed villains and fringe dwellers gathered, partied and lived art. With some of the finest creatives on the planet as headline guests, a mere 45 tickets holders consisting of collectors, aficionados and master printers helped to create an intimate but way-out happening, with master class art sessions and around-the-clock painting in every corner and all fueled by a two-day collaborative art jam.


The pre-announced line-up of rogue minds was – take a breath – fantasy illustrator James Gurney, ethereal painter Audrey Kawasaki, monster kid Travis Louie, dark taxidermist Elizabeth McGrath, Technicolor woodcutter Miss Mindy, boob and pink-loving Buff Monster, robot obsessive Johnny KMNDZ Rodriguez, pop culture masher KRK Ryden, creature surrealist Greg “Craola” Simkins, Lithium Picnic’s Philip Warner and Japanese mythmaker Yoskay Yamamoto. Surprise guests included Gary Baseman, Michael Hussar, Jeffrey Scott, Gris Grimly and Tara McPherson, all getting mucky with paint, ink or camera.

No surprise that on the Friday evening it was a veritable celebrity edition of Dr. Sketchy’s held at the Riverside Art Museum with Molly Crabapple, creator of the art phenomena herself as emcee. Mosh, Bizarre’s recent cover girl made for a stunning life model, sporting a snazzy latex nurse outfit complete with catheter. The museum also held its opening night of the Son of Babytattooville gallery exhibit, showcasing all the guest artists and works from previous events with impromptu sketching flowing like the wine from the open bar.


Saturday night blended innovative fiction, hotel history and the work of the featured artists, to form the basis of an immersive alternate reality game, designed by 42 Entertainment. It found the entire ensemble head for the hotel’s spooky underground catacombs and running amok throughout the entire Mission Inn, much to the surprise of the mainstream guests, obviously in need of a little art revolution.


Bob Self, Bizarre’s Dark Art’s columnist and creator of publishing house Baby Tattoo Book is the enigmatic, mad-magician behind the Baby Tattooville curtain. ‘It’s like a secret society for artists and art fans,’ he hinted. ‘It’s not a secret society in the sense that nobody knows we exist. They know we get together, they hear that it’s fun, but they don’t necessarily know what it is that goes on. What drives it, a mission statement if you will, is this; why couldn’t people that love art, whether they create it or consume it, get together and just have a weekend that was all about what makes the art-centric lifestyle great?’


Article and photos appearing in the new issue of Bizarre Magazine.

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Taken on October 4, 2009