Los Angeles tattoo icon Mister Cartoon is opening “Just My Imagination,” his debut solo show at Beyond the Streets & Control Gallery. It works from June 10 to July 15. (Photo courtesy of Beyond the Streets)
He is a Los Angeles icon and a world-renowned tattoo artist whose work has gone beyond the skin and has been featured in group shows in art galleries around the world.
Now Mister Cartoon, born Mark Machado, is celebrating his home and local roots with his first solo show in the city where he was born and raised.
“It is my command that we do it here first. The city is very important to me,” Cartoon said a few days before the opening of “Just My Imagination” at Beyond the Streets & Control Gallery. It opens on Saturday June 10 and will run until Saturday July 15.
“You are going to see a new work of mine that no one has seen before, not even my friends have seen it,” he added.
Original artwork in the show exemplifies the Los Angeles lowrider lifestyle, Chicano culture, and the fine line black and gray tattoo style that was born in prisons and elevated by talented artists like Cartoon.
“I’m painting for myself and my peers, it’s my part to leave a mark on our culture or try to contribute to our culture,” he said.
The show includes drawings and airbrush work using automotive paint on various canvases, including handmade metal. While he has shown his work in many group shows before, it has taken him so long to present his own solo show in Los Angeles because he is a busy working artist.
“I have never filled an entire gallery on my own. It takes a lot of work to fill a gallery and I’m a commercial artist, and you have to work 9 to 5,” Cartoon said.
Born in downtown Los Angeles and raised in the Harbor area, Cartoon started out as a graffiti artist before branching out into murals, then gigs designing album covers, logos, and finally into tattoos. He has become an in-demand artist, inking hip hop stars like Eminem, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent and other musicians like Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and Beyoncé.
In his exhibit, people will see pieces that reflect where he grew up, including a black-and-white image of Los Angeles under a cloudy skyline with liquor stores and skyscrapers side by side. There is another piece in black and white that represents an old school cholo walking down the street surrounded by religious images such as angles and clouds.
The backbone of the exhibition are colorful airbrushed paintings on metal canvases inspired by his tattoos. And the metal canvases themselves were inspired by car parts, though some paintings are done on actual car parts, including one that was created on the trunk lid of a 1964 Chevy Impala.
“I am taking images that I put on people’s skin and put them on canvas. And I’m sticking with those classic heroes and characters that I’ve developed,” she said.
There is also a complete car on display, which has also been on display before. It’s a 1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe airbrushed by Cartoon a few years ago with images of old mobsters.
The exhibition is accompanied by an art book made up of his drawings entitled “Sketches: Book One”. The 180-page book is packed with more than 290 drawings that Cartoon says show the background process of his art that most people don’t get to see.
“Some of them are kind of (expletive) sketches, but it’s the opposite of the polished paintings you’re going to see in the show,” he said. “I’m hyped, I’m excited about all this. I just want people to go there, relax, have fun, and get soaked. Hopefully someone will leave inspired to make some art or just participate in the culture.”
Mister Cartoon: “Just my imagination”
When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday June 10-July 15
Where: Beyond the Streets & Control Gallery, 434 N La Brea Ave., Los Angeles
Tickets: Free pass. For more information, go to control.gallery