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November 8, 2013

Empire Tattoo Studios Does Dia de los Muertos in Style

Written by  Kimberly Johnson
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Various Art Work at Empire Tattoo Studios Various Art Work at Empire Tattoo Studios Photo by Kimberly Johnson


Rancho Cucamonga’s Empire Tattoo Studios celebrated their Dia De Los Muertos by commemorating the theme of “death” through art.

Not unlike the traditional route practiced throughout Mexico, several professionals in the field, including each of the shop’s in-house tattoo artists—Ramon Rendon, Shawn Warcott, Ben Ochoa and Katie Bradburn—produced original pieces expressing their perception of the term.

While the average individual may find themselves halted when considering ideas that encompass the impression of death, this team of art aficionados took on the challenge to perceive the word within their own creative contexts.

Joanna Nguyen and Johnny Arias contributed paintings that ventured out of the normative tone and texture of the show. Their unique expressions of death, supplementing the skulls and grim reapers that were in no short supply, took a vivid shift from the aesthetic dark hues, creating some unexpected welcomed solace. Their use of distinctive color palettes and tonality gave a definitive contrast, utilizing opaque blues against complementary browns tying in pronounced oranges, capped off by effervescent reds.

There was even a tattooed preserved pig’s foot floating overheard in a lovely glass jar. So understandably, there is morbidity expected to accompany death, obvious socially constructed ideologies explain this phenomenon with ease.

However, Mexico’s take on the expression, illustrated by celebrations like Dia De Los Muertos, is a welcomed twist to American culture’s grief with the idea. This, in particular, showed itself to be useful when analyzing several of the artists undisclosed underlying messages—some even implementing a bit of humor into the mix.

But let’s take a step back before continuing to dissect a formulated arts review here. It has been brought to my attention that some may feel art forms shoved into the strangely pretentious term of “low brow” just “cannot manage to coordinate a well-constructed art exhibition.”

As an award winning tattoo parlor and one of three locations in the Inland Empire alone, Rancho Cucamonga’s Empire Tattoo Studios proves to do things in their own creative contexts just by way of habit. Instead of waiting for the art community to take notice of the proactive “low brow” culture, independent entities are making the opportunities for themselves.

In doing this, they go against the grain, continuing to create avenues for up and coming artists and solidifying their mark on our local arts community for years to come.

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Arts Sustainers

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KOA Corporation Planning & Engineering

San Bernardino Art Association

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Joshua Tree Music Festival


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Paulson Orthodontics

Mojave Desert Land Trust

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The Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art

The Ontario Museum of History and Art

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Special thanks to Copper Mountain College for our hosting the conference this year!









The Garcia Center for the Arts
536 W. 11th Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410

Tel: 909.381.1900

mailing address:

5500 University Parkway
Visual Arts Building, Rm. 308
San Bernardino, CA 92407

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