Tattoo Artists Keep the ‘Year of the Tiger’ Roaring in New SF Exhibit

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A painting depicts a tiger, one blood-soaked paw reaching upwards. Behind the tiger’s head is a gold halo. Next to it flies three blue butterflies.
A detail from ‘Red Tiger’ by Cristina Ramos, currently on display at 111 Minna Gallery, part of the group ‘Year of the Tiger’ exhibition. (111 Minna Gallery)

Over the weekend, the Lunar New Year transitioned the world from the Year of the Tiger — a period of action and strength — into the much gentler Year of the Rabbit, a time of peace and reflection. Not everyone was quite ready to let go of all that big cat energy, however. Case in point: the tattoo artists who banded together over the weekend to throw the tiger one last hurrah.

Year of the Tiger, now on display at downtown San Francisco’s 111 Minna Gallery is a collection of works curated by Luke Stewart, the owner of Seventh Son Tattoo in the SoMa. Most of Seventh Son’s artists contributed paintings to the exhibition, including local body art legends Henry Lewis, Grime and Jeff Croci.

a painting depicts an aggressive tiger, teeth bared, eyes glowing yellow, as it prowls across the canvas.
‘Soma Tiger,’ one of four paintings by Henry Lewis currently on display as part of 111 Minna’s ‘Year of the Tiger’ show. (Rae Alexandra)

Year of the Tiger also gathers talent from other Bay Area tattoo shops, including San Francisco’s Black Heart, Berkeley’s War Horse and Albany’s André Malcolm Studio. Artists from further afield — like Austin’s David Grizzle and Los Angeles’ Christina Ramos — also feature.

Surprisingly, where Year of the Tiger often excels is in the moments that stretch outside the realms of traditional tattoo aesthetics. George Campise’s Tony and His Goddamn Ducks is a hilarious mash up of Tony the Tiger and Tony Soprano.

A painting depicts a cool looking tiger, walking on two legs and wearing gold chains, a bath robe and underwear. The tiger is holding a cigar. In front of him are four ducks of differing sizes with deranged facial expressions.
George Campise’s ‘Tony and His Goddamn Ducks.’ (Rae Alexandra)

Bay Area muralist Amandalynn is one of only two non-tattoo artists featured in the show. Her piece Painted Lady is a stand-out moment, bringing a soupçon of feminine street style to the proceedings.

a wooden canvas in the shape of a woman kneeling down and looking over her shoulder assertively. Her skin is covered in tattoos, including a large tiger on her back.
‘Painted Lady’ by fine artist and muralist Amandalynn. (Rae Alexandra)

Beautiful paintings by Kim Stace ThomasMatt Leibowitz and Jared Smith — all Seventh Son artists — include rabbits in their tiger renditions, respectful nods to the Lunar New Year’s influx of fresh energy. All of which are delightful additions to a show that tattoo lovers will definitely want to take a prowl around.

A painting featuring a tiger sitting upright, viewed from the rear. On its head sits a white rabbit facing forwards.
‘Welcome the Rabbit’ by Kim Stace Thomas. (Rae Alexandra)

‘Year of the Tiger’ is on view at 111 Minna Gallery, San Francisco, through March 23, 2023. Exhibition details here.