Rita Batiste’s “Tibet’s magic shop”

“I’ve loved tattoos since I was a kid. I couldn’t wait to get my first tattoo! It felt like Christmastime, counting down the days until it was time to open my presents! I secretly got my first tattoo when I was 19, from a Harley rider who worked out of his home. I had my boyfriend draw it for me since I didn’t really see any that I liked. I’ve always had this special relationship with the sun. When I close my eyes and put my face to the sun, it is my quiet, my mentor, my relief, and it grounds me. My grandmother was part of a religion in Japan that worshiped the sun, or so my mother tells me … but I’m not supposed to tell anybody else. She says, ‘You know, family skeletons.’ I had to hide my tattoo from my parents. We had a swimming pool and usually swam all summer long, which made it really hard. When my mom finally saw it … SHIT HIT THE FAN!!! It didn’t matter to me though because the way I felt was so amazing. My skin felt different, I felt different, and I knew that I would tattoo my body for the rest of my life!

My second tattoo was a spur-of-the-moment type of thing. I was going with my friend James to get his first tattoo and he asked if I would ‘hold his hand.’ The tattoo shop Tribal Rites is right around the corner from the Fox Theater and my reggae band had just played the Fox. It was such a big thing for me that I felt like I wanted to pay homage. I had the initials tatted on my upper right arm.

While I was there, one wasn’t enough! I wanted to remind myself of something that has always been important to me: to be loving, to have a loving presence, and to act in kindness. So I put it on my right foot, as a reminder to always ‘walk in love!’

Time passed and I was ready for my sleeve. I knew I wanted a lotus flower, Ganesh, and the seven chakra’s swirling up my arm. I went several times to a place in town but the vibe wasn’t right so I held off on my sleeve. One night, I simply decided to get the sleeve started and dropped in on Claw & Talon; I had the lotus put on the inside of my left wrist. I added blue fire. It was a drawing of a lotus in a book about Buddhism. A year and a half later I was in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico and decided to mirror the yin and yang of my first lotus … right wrist, empty and all in red.

My latest tattoo is part of a large-scale project and only the second of its kind in the nation. It was started by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, professors of Art and American Literature at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. One of the participants, Chelsea Pohl, graduated from Naropa University in 2005. She asked Kurt and Kremena if they would work with her to create a similar project here in Boulder, CO. She commissioned Anne Waldman, a Naropa Professor, to write an ode to the People’s Republic. It’s called ‘Boulder Zodiac.’ I chose the words ‘Tibet’s Magic Shop.’ I love Boulder, my community, and the people within it. Having part of the poem tattooed on my body makes me feel completely connected. It fits perfectly and it is nestled into the first lotus flower; oddly enough Chelsea co-owns & manages Claw & Talon.”

Rita Batiste

Rita Batiste’s “Tibet’s magic shop”

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