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A Tattooed and Cultured Experience: Visit the Oskaloosa Art Center
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A Tattooed and Cultured Experience: Visit the Oskaloosa Art Center

“People have marked their skin with pigment since the beginning of mankind. It’s in our blood to decorate our bodies. Sometimes with gold, jewels, and makeup; other times with tattoos and piercings. It is a way to make a statement about who you are. Art is a statement too. I wanted the audience to see how fine art and tattoo are related to one another as a form of expression and skill.” – Jane Ryder

Stop into the Oskaloosa Art Center & Studios to see this month’s gallery show-- The Skin We’re In.  This unique show is based on work inspired by the art of tattooing. The opening reception to the show was a huge hit, surpassing expectations. All ages can come out to be inspired by the amazing art and even get temporary body art of their own.  Members of FACE of Mahaska County, the non-profit organization responsible for the art center, will draw temporary tattoos on those interested in experiencing the decorative art of henna. 

Thursday, February 18th, the Oskaloosa Art Center is hosting an event sure to be a big success! This FREE event will not disappoint! Stop in between 5:30 – 8:30 to experience art, art lovers, henna tattoos, refreshments and MUSIC!  The musical husband and wife duo, The Stress Vine, will be playing from 7 – 8 pm. If you can’t make it Thursday, the show will be on display until the end of February.

Local artist, Jane Ryder, curates the show for the Oskaloosa Art Center.  “All the pieces were informed by tattoos. Some pieces were informed by the genres of tattoos (traditional, new school, traditional Japanese, Maori, or tribal). Other pieces were more narrative in style. Rob Stephens “Good Kid Rob” explains his relationship with tattoos. We had a social media project where people were encouraged to send us photos of their tattoos and we made a huge collage. This was a fun project to organize!  In Vivo Studios (Alan and Justine Munger) helped the art center by creating a “History of Tattoo” room, which nicely rounded out the show,“ Ryder explained.

The exhibit is composed of works by amateur and professional artists, local and national.  Works range from henna-tattoo inspired art, to fine art by the tattoo artists themselves.

The Oskaloosa Art Center & Studios, located in Oskaloosa, has been presenting shows that appeal to all.  Previous art exhibits include a skateboard deck show, “Art on Wheels”, a celebration of Iowa artists, as well as local student shows.

“Overall, I just wanted people to have fun looking at art,” Ryder explained. “Art starts a dialog; it can start friendships, it encourages you to think ‘outside the box’. That’s what it’s really all about for me; people coming together with a common goal of making the world a more interesting and beautiful place to live with art.”

Take a trip to Oskaloosa, Iowa and experience the culture this small town has to offer. The Oskaloosa Art Center is located on the east side of town in the Heartland Square Mall, 1701 3rd Ave E. The door, located on the southeast corner of the building, can be hard to locate, but once you find your way inside you won't be disappointed. Be sure to check out the art center calendar at or call ahead (641-676-4694) for open hours or to make an appointment.  If you’d like more information on getting involved, email:


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*Photo by Briana Bartlett: You're never too young to start appreciating art! Megan Hammer, of Urbandale, IA, shares the gallery experience with her son.

Leave a Comment

  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
    Wow! This sounds incredibly inspired! Thanks for the post!
    Log in to reply.


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