The Weekend of Thom deVita’s Popup Art Gallery

It was 2:00 PM on Friday Jan. 11. I had 30 minutes left before I was to leave work, and I needed to race and get as much done as possible. At 2:27, the lady was at my desk and chiding me for not being ready to leave. I hastily got my coat and things together, turned off my computer and printer, and made my way to the door, feeling like a kid in high school before a long break or vacation.

When we got back to the apartment, I realized I had made the fatal mistake of waiting until that day to pack. I raced to get my clothes together, making sure that I only packed what was needed. On top of that, it was my Dad’s birthday, so I had to call him and wish him a happy birthday, tidy up the apartment quickly, call a cab to pick us up, make sure my cats would have everything they needed and all of their supplies were out for my friend that was watching them, as well as give my older cat his much needed IV (old dude has kidney disease). We got everything taken care of in the nick of time, and still had a few minutes to say goodbye to our two crazy cats and talk about how excited we were to head to NYC. Right on time, our cab had arrived.

For whatever reason, flights down to NYC from Rochester, NY for that weekend were more expensive than usual. Since the lady and I had to be back to work Monday morning, there was no way we were going to drive back and forth to and from the city, so we decided to take a Megabus down. The pros of this decision were that 1) we didn’t have to drive and 2) we would get to sleep/relax/do whatever the hell we wanted during the ride; the cons of this decision were that we rode down with some very unpleasant people. I kept telling myself that not having to drive, as well as the cheap cost of a bus ticket, were just a few reasons worth having to dealing with listening to someone’s phone conversation for nearly an hour while they literally cried because of some TV show, not to mention that I’d soon be getting tattooed and meeting some truly awesome and inspiring individuals.

After leaving Rochester at about 5:15 PM, the two of us arrived at my buddy’s apartment in Bay Ridge at around 2 AM. The highlight of the trip down was undoubtedly an extremely drunk woman stepping onto the N train-at some point in Manhattan-with no clue which train she needed to be on, a kind gentleman telling her she was on the right train and which stop to get off at, only to have her start yelling “This is bullshit. Dah, you told me to get on the wrong train. Daahh.” I tried extremely hard to conceal my enjoyment of the whole ordeal, but it was a losing battle that I soon found myself conceding to. Needless to say, once we had made it to my friend Tim’s house, it felt heavenly to finally lay down and fall asleep after such a long and crazy night of traveling.

In the morning, I woke up to the sound and smell of Tim making coffee. I quickly gathered myself, and then the two of us set out to the corner store to get eggs, bacon, juice, and then to get some bagels. After devouring my food and quickly showering, the lady and I set out for Carroll Gardens by way of the F train. After about a 40 minute train ride, we found ourselves excitedly at the door of Smith Street Tattoo Parlour.


Smith Street Tattoo Parlour

I had a 12 o’ clock appointment with Dan Santoro to get a spider web around my right shoulder, as well as a little garbage can cat filler tattoo. The lady had an appointment with Eli Quinters at 2:30, so we knew we were going to be there for a while. My tattoos went smoothly, and took about an hour and a half to finish up. Once I was done, the lady and I figured that we would eat before her appointment, so we headed to what has become a post-tattoo tradition-Court Street Grocers. I got an amazing Reuben, and the lady got The Jawn, which is an amalgamation of amazingness that is compromised of roast beef, provolone, butter lettuce, red onion, mayo, and house hoagie spread, on Banh Mi bread. The taste buds were in an uproar. Once we were completely satisfied following our delicious meal, we headed back to Smith Street where Eli put a beautiful Chris Conn lady head with a rose on her shoulder. With three new tattoos between the both of us, we were two extremely pleased customers headed towards the Bowery.

From Carroll Gardens, the train ride was a mere 15 minutes, and the F train took us just a few blocks away from Kings Ave Tattoo. We found ourselves at the door of Kings Ave-which is at the bottom of a steep stair case, that leads you up to the second flood of the building where the shop is located-ecstatic that we had finally made it to our ultimate destination. The lady and I made our way into the shop and saw a bustling of people, some of which were perusing the beautiful art that was adorning the walls, others talking and having a good time, and still others tattooing and getting tattooed. The event seemed like it was going to be well attended by many tattooers, and that became apparent when I noticed the likes of Oliver Peck, Forestt Cavacco, and Daniel Albrigo amongst the crowd.


Thom deVita’s Popup Art Gallery at Kings Ave Tattoo

At this point, I was pretty excited and didn’t know where to begin. Should I immediately go over to Thom deVita and tell him how much I enjoy his art, tattoos, and how much I enjoyed his segment on Tattoo Age? Do I scope out some of the art? Do I see who’s tattooing what? Well, I decided that my first destination would be for a table that was set up with books that had a bunch of prints of Thom’s work.


Chris Grosso

As the lady and I were rifling through the books, I over heard someone refer to who they were speak to as Chris. Chris Grosso-one of the producers of Tattoo Age, as well as one of the folks that helped with putting on Thom’s show-and I had previously talked a few weeks prior about me stopping over at the show and taking pictures, but I had yet to meet him. Seeing how this red flannel clad gentleman seemed to be giving information pertaining to Thom’s art to the person that he was talking to, I naturally assumed that this had to be Chris.

I introduced myself and the lady to Chris, the three of us began chatting, and I immediately sensed how friendly he is. We talked about Thom’s work, me getting tattooed, Last Sparrow Tattoo, and then he graciously introduced me to Mike Rubendall. After thanking Mike for allowing me to poke around the shop and take some photos, Chris wanted to introduce me to Thom and Nick Bubash. As nerdy as this is to say, I was pretty excited to finally meet such an amazing tattooer and artist.


The man himself-Thom deVita

Thom introduced himself to me, shook my hand, and then Chris began to tell him that I’d be writing about the show, and that I had written about Tattoo Age in the past. He thanked me for spreading the word about the show, as well as for my write ups on his segments on Tattoo Age.

Thom began showing the lady and I several pieces of his art, and I was in awe at his work. When seeing his art on Tattoo Age, you’re not able to see all of the minute, little details and aspects to some of the pieces. In person, you’re able to see that he adds stamps, drawings, little paintings, and etchings to nearly every inch of an art piece. His box art pieces have work added to the inside, underside, bottom, top, and side lips, and even on the backs of them. I asked Thom how long it takes him to create a piece of art and his response was, “I’m able to finish a piece of art in a few hours, but I usually add things to it over the course of several days.” It was truly a treat being able to see Thom’s art up close and personal, and be able to talk to him about it. He was friendly and cordial, and seemed to enjoy speaking about his work.

Thom was then pulled away to talk with some other folks, so Chris began showing me some of the pieces he liked, what had and hadn’t been purchased, and then left the lady and I to enjoy the work. Besides enjoying the beautiful art, we got to see the likes of Scott Harrison tattoo, as well as the room become abuzz with excitement once the legendary Tony Polito showed up.


Scott Harrison


Thom deVita and Tony Polito

Before leaving, I thanked Chris and Mike again being for courtesy and letting me take some photos of the show. I let Thom know that it was a pleasure to have met him, and how much I had enjoy his art work. I was also able to leave with an awesome art print that Thom had made from the fliers for the show.


Heading back to Rochester the following day, there was definitely a bittersweet feel about it. I was pretty tired from being nearly on the move the entire weekend, but anytime I’m in NYC I never want to leave. The excitement of the weekend was still palpable, not to mention the drive home was going to get me back to Rochester after midnight, and I’d have to be up in the morning for work. However, the weekend wound up being as fun and awesome as I thought it would be. Taking a shitty bus ride, which totaled 13 hours of driving,  as well as getting home tired as hell and still having to get up in a few hours, were totally worth it. Thank you to Chris Grosso and Mike Rubendall for being so friendly, and for the opportunity to take photos. It’s immensely appreciated. This turned out to be an extremely fun weekend, one that will not soon be forgotten.



About Our Endless Days

I am an avid traditional tattoo enthusiast that enjoys the rich culture, history, and art of tattoos. At this point in time, I'm slowly but surely adding to my tattoos.
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3 Responses to The Weekend of Thom deVita’s Popup Art Gallery

  1. linedlife says:

    Thanks for the write up. Interesting read. A friend and I are saving up for a similar “pilgrimage” one day, and we hope to add on Bailey H. Robinson & Robert Ryan to the list, or rather, skin. All the best from London! Keep up the good work man. Michael

  2. dave voegeli says:

    Nice!!!…I was there Saturday…it was a great show and I bought an awesome piece!!!….Dave Voegeli

  3. “The Weekend of Thom deVitas Popup Art Gallery | Our Endless
    Days” was in fact a extremely wonderful post, .
    Continue posting and I’ll keep on reading! Thanks ,Kitty

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