Tattoo Parlor Yard 1Art has a funny way of showing up in some of the most unexpected places. Cave walls. Matchbooks. The heads of tiny pins. Even places where no one would ever think to call it art.

That’s what happened to me one day as I walked my laundry basket back to my car after exiting the rear door of my local laundromat. Now, I’ve used this laundrette off and on for months, so color me surprised when I randomly glanced over to see some incredibly provocative graffiti on the far end of the building.

I knew there was a tattoo parlor next door, but I’ve honestly never given it a second thought. There’s a nice funky mix of the working class and middle class within 3 blocks of my place. It’s one of the things I love about my neighborhood. But this is different. This wondrous cavalcade of mania, anarchy and devotion forced me to put my things away quickly in the backseat of my car, grab my camera and take a closer look.

And what did I find? … An unapproved shrine to chaos. 🙂

Perhaps it was always blocked by other vehicles in the lot, but I’m glad I stumbled along and saw this wonderful work in the warm afternoon light. If you look closely, you see that it starts with the graffiti along the back wall, then leaps the green into this funky amalgam of beer bottles, rubber boots, broken furniture, pop cans, women’s shoes, twist ties, cardboard cutouts, children’s toys, adult toys (::cough::),  random pieces of paper, cigarette lighters, old woven gloves, a bicycle bell, and at least 2 Toy Story Woody dolls hanging upside down from trees.

As you can imagine, there’s way more to this scene than I can accurately capture, so feel free to click on the images below to zoom in on the creative and frightening display. And I mean frightening in the most respectful sense here. The area — which could be the collaborative work of multiple people — was clearly developed to shock and provoke, and I’m sure it has on numerous occasions.

I suppose what’s most inspiring (and I’m sure it wasn’t intended to do so) is that it feels completely organic. Nothing feels shoehorned in or unnecessary. Not one piece carries a predetermined message. Not one item evokes a universal theme. It all just flows like a stream of conscientious across the wall, grass and trees. You don’t feel preached to or shouted at. And you don’t feel compelled to find a deeper meaning. You simply take it all in and let it be.

I haven’t encountered art in a public space that felt like that in years. I’m almost certain it was unintentional, but sometimes artists produce some of their greatest creations in unexpected places.

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Some may not be surprised to see this unique garden of Hedon behind a tattoo parlor, because what are tattooists if not artists. But I found it to be a delightful surprise and I’m grateful to have it stand out as yet another great example of amazing art in my community.