By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
What kind of tattoo would a three-year-old get? That's probably not the first question that most of the people walking or driving by Certified Customs Tattoos on South Broadway ask when they look at the new mural painted on a huge wall on the side of the building.
Who the hell would tattoo a three-year-old? That's probably closer to the truth.
Painted by street muralist Gamma Acosta (named by Westword's arts blog, Show and Tell, as one of "Ten people to watch in 2013"; see the story on showandtelldenver.com), the mural depicts Nando Mondragon, the well-known local tattoo artist who owns Certified, at 120 South Broadway, inking a tattoo on the arm of a wailing child.
The image has elicited wide-open mouths, raised eyebrows and stares of sheer terror from many passersby, some of whom began snapping pictures of the mural even before it was finished — and that's the effect the artist (who goes by "Gamma") and Mondragon were going for.
After bouncing ideas off Gamma, Mondragon found inspiration from a 1950s picture of two men tattooing each other. "We talked about different ideas and the points we were trying to get across, and I talked to him about maybe something with me tattooing my son," he says. "Just to make some people laugh and some people look at it and be offended by it. So far, it has worked out pretty well."
"People of all walks of life were walking by and looking at it," Gamma adds. "People did a double take and asked if he really got tattooed."
No, Mondragon (who is married to a Westword employee) didn't tattoo his son. "A lot of people know me and my relationship with my son. They know I would never do anything like that, so it's kind of funny," he says. "It's pissed off a lot of people, and it's open for interpretation, for sure. There are definitely people who are thinking that we're condoning tattooing kids, for some reason, even though it's so ridiculous.
"Kids try to grow up faster than they're ready for," he continues. "Being a father/son picture, it shows my face, and I'm kind of giving the expression, like, 'You asked for it.' His face, with him screaming like that, he understands, like, 'Maybe I'm not ready to grow up this fast and I need to enjoy my childhood.'"
This is the third mural that Gamma has painted for Mondragon — and the most successful by far. "The past two were characters and pretty much freehand; no planning went into them whatsoever," says Gamma, explaining that the mural was based on a photo that Mondragon staged. "This was a little more satisfying and a lot harder to execute."
The other murals, which represented milestones in Mondragon's life, stayed up for a few months, but the tattoo artist plans to keep this one up longer than the others. "I don't think I'll be able to paint over that one. It'll probably be there for at least a year."
Bearly there: There's an undeniable fascination about urban bear rescues, as witnessed by the way a photo of a bear falling out of a tree in Boulder went viral last year. No telling whether images of a bear being plucked from a tree in Colorado Springs last weekend will become equally ubiquitous. But the operation, which involved not one, but two tranquilizer darts and a fire truck's ladder, was certainly striking. (You can see photos of both rescues on the Latest Word blog at westword.com).
The story didn't end well for the bear in the April 2012 photo: it was reportedly relocated to a wilderness area fifty miles from Boulder, but found its way back into the vicinity of Boulder within weeks and was killed after being struck by a car on Highway 36. Colorado Parks and Wildlife staffers are doing everything they can to avoid a similar fate for the Colorado Springs bear, a 200-pound female found in a tree near the Colorado Springs intersection of South Chelton Road and South Claremont Street. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the bear will be taken to a locale one hundred miles away from where she perched — double the distance of the Boulder bear.