Chelsea Locheart’s “inspiring”

Just over 2 years after we first hugged her in Espressoria, a small coffee house on Pearl Street in Boulder, CO, Chelsea Locheart has become a trusted friend, someone we love and respect deeply. In the 2 years since we met, we have had innumerable phone calls, exchanged countless words in writing, and shared a few moments of anxiety. We have also laughed, shared fruity drinks, and taken a ride in Vinny’s Porsche. Vinny Bachert is Chelsea’s husband, the lead tattoo artist for the Boulder Tattoo Project, and the man whose casual comment inspired the secret image we created for the Boulder artwork.

Today’s date–June 18–commemorates two things. First, it is Chelsea and Vinny’s wedding anniversary. We are so glad they met! Second, it is the day on which Vinny, Chelsea, and their two girls began their road trip to Kentucky the summer before the Boulder Tattoo Project poem was penned and more than 200 Boulderites got inked to permanently mark their love for Boulder. Today is an important day indeed.

Here is Chelsea’s story:

“I first heard about the Lexington Tattoo Project from my sister. She had sent me a link to an article about it and said that I should make something similar happen in Boulder, considering that my husband and I own a local tattoo shop. I thought the project was really cool and it slowly began to sink in that I had to do it, or at least give it a try. It was during a time of my life when I was looking for a little direction. I had quit a full-time job about a year or so earlier and had been at a loss as to where to put my energy. I have a lot of energy to give, so it is fair to say that I was a bit depressed without a project to sink my teeth into.

I sent an initial email to founding artists, Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova, telling them who I was, what my affiliation to Lexington was (I was born and raised there), and why I was interested in bringing the project to Boulder. They were warm and welcoming to the idea, and we continued to dialogue about the prospect over a couple of weeks. They made sure I understood how much work it would be and warned me that there were two of them and only one of me. They were also very supportive, making it clear that they would be there for me during each step of the way.

We launched the project in April 2013, with their initial visit to Boulder. I remember feeling so excited that there was such a positive response from the community. I also felt lucky to be able to have creative input into the artwork, such as choosing the poet and the musician, and sourcing the tattoo artists. Gradually, the project began to have a momentum of its own. I used press releases, emails, and social media, and people began to email me left and right, wanting to participate. I was thrilled that it was taking hold.

In June 2013, my family visited Lexington and I officially became a part of the Lexington Tattoo Project, begging Kremena to share her phrase ‘deep roots’ with me. I wanted to honor where I and this artwork came from, and since I was bringing it to my new hometown, I liked the idea of being the physical link between both cities. I also liked the idea of being ‘tattoo twins’ with Kremena. I now wear the phrase ‘deep roots’ on my ankles.

Back in Boulder, Anne Waldman agreed to write the poem, which she sent us on Memorial Day 2014. ‘Boulder Zodiac’ is a twelve-stanza poem, which focuses on the twelve signs of the zodiac in relation to Boulder. ‘Perfect,’ I thought.

With Anne Waldman on board, things really got into full swing by the late summer, early fall of 2013. Looking back, a lot of that time is a blur. There were thousands of emails, interviews, events, and serious organization of more than 200 participants, a number of artists, and many sponsors. Not to mention the insanity of the 500-year flood in September. It was a lot of work, but I loved it. I sincerely felt a kinship with each participant as they joined the project.

I learned so much from doing this artwork. From grant writing to event planning, networking, and working with arts organizations, it was a rewarding process which has really set me up to continue this type of work.

When it came time to choose our words and phrases, I wanted to find a word that would encapsulate my desire to offer my love of art to Boulder. To bring everything I am to the table and to offer service and commitment to the arts in this town. I was first drawn to a Scorpio phrase, ‘seductively beckons.’ I thought, ‘Sure, I’ll seductively beckon everyone into following my lead.’  But that didn’t completely sit right or fulfill my intention. I moved on to ‘reinventing herself,’ also a phrase from the Scorpio section, which I liked because it implied the process I felt when I left Kentucky and came to Boulder, but it still didn’t quite capture my intention. After a while, I scoured the poem one last time and saw ‘inspiring.’  It wasn’t in the Scorpio section, which is maybe why I didn’t notice it at first. But when I finally saw it, I knew it was perfect. It paid homage to Kurt and Kremena for ‘inspiring’ me. It also gave me an action to follow. To work to inspire. To always strive to be ‘inspiring.’ If I do nothing else in this lifetime, I will be happy if I inspire, especially when it relates to the arts.”

Chelsea Locheart

Chelsea Locheart’s “inspiring”


Katelyn Long’s “the small talk:” or why you should ask Katelyn where she is from if you meet her

Katelyn Long is so far the only person we know who has connections to the Lexington, Cincinnati, and Boulder Tattoo Projects.

Katelyn wanted to participate in the Lexington Tattoo Project when we launched it almost three years ago. Because at the time she was a student of Transylvania University, where the two of us teach, she was automatically ineligible for participation (we had only 2 rules that disqualified people; being a Transylvania student was one of them). That she was also a babysitter for us and gave our kids swimming lessons did not help her :).

Then the Cincinnati Tattoo Project happened, but Katelyn heard about it a bit late. So she got on the waiting list…until someone backed out!

Significantly, Katelyn just graduated from Transylvania and is headed to graduate school at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Here is Katelyn’s story:

“I was born at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati in 1992. We lived in Cincinnati for a year before my family moved just south of the Ohio river, in that part of Kentucky where people say they’re from Cincinnati. I suppose I never realized how important home was to me until I moved to Lexington to start college. The majority of my family still lives in Cincinnati and I usually see them only around Christmas time. I almost always miss the WEBN fireworks because the first day of school is always the next morning.  I miss ice-skating in Fountain Square, because (sorry, Lexington) Triangle Park just isn’t the same.

These are all things I realize I love about the area I am from, things I never really appreciated until I moved farther away. I now know never to take them for granted. I also know that the last stop to get a Cincinnati-style three-way is the Skyline in Dry Ridge, KY.

One of the reasons I really liked the phrase ‘the small talk:’ is because that’s how everyone starts to know each other, through small talk. One of the topics always covered is where you’re from. Right next to my phrase are four little bees I drew to symbolize the bee farm I grew up on. Where I grew up had such an impact on where I am today, and that was a good enough reason for me to permanently get it inked into my skin (though my mom might not agree). I now have a permanent reminder of the city I was so fortunate to live in. I love sharing my story of the meaning behind ‘the small talk:’. This fall, when I move to Boulder, Colorado for graduate school, I can’t wait to share my story with the people there. Maybe I’ll even be lucky enough to meet people from the Boulder Tattoo Project and they can tell me their stories too.”

Katelyn Long

Katelyn Long’s “the small talk:” (photograph by Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova)

Elizabeth Rohr’ “back away”

“This is Elizabeth Rohr checking in—smiling as I write this! I first heard of the Boulder Tattoo Project from the mother of the kids I worked for as a nanny and immediately got on board! This is how I have been living my life for the past many years, intuitively and from the heart!

I had toyed with the idea of getting another tattoo, but nothing really inspired me—so I was ripe and ready! I had always imagined a tattoo on my lower back—back away!

I moved to Boulder last year after living on the road for three years, following my heart, hearing the invitations and the need for my presence around the world. I came here to learn and to teach. In the summer of 2012, I knew it was my turn to pick where I wanted to land. I knew I could actually land and be supported! Boulder had been one of my stops since 2009 and I had fallen in love; I hadn’t want to leave and yet I knew I had to when I was called back to Cincinnati.

So in 2012 I headed West and came here to stay. I love the people, the land, the climate, the possibilities, the abundance, the food. For the first time in my life I can be me fully, without worrying how others will accept me—we are all a little weird here! Boulder embodies the consciousness I now carry!

The flood interrupted my ability to pick a phrase in a timely fashion … by the time I got around to picking a phrase, there were not many left. I saw ‘back away’ and it felt the most true!

So ‘back away’ is what I chose. It resonated with me because during my years of soul travel, I have learned to stand in my power. I have also learned that love doesn’t always sound and feel sweet and soft—sometimes love says ‘back away.’ Or, as I sometimes say, ‘Back off, bugaloo!’

I love Boulder, I love who I am becoming here, I love the poem, and I am so honored to be a part of a love poem to Boulder. I am proud to wear it on my body!

I get that the walk for me now is to totally embody all that I have learned over the last few years. I embody the love of Boulder with my tattoo!

Thank you, Chelsea. Thank you, all, who made this possible. Thank you, Boulder.”

Elizabeth Rohr

Elizabeth Rohr’s “back away”

Teri Moody’s “your guardian”

“I have had a connection to Boulder from my teenage years until now. One of my fondest memories will always be of attending the ‘Monsters of Rock’ concerts at Folsom Field in the early 80s. Boulder was the ‘in’ place to spend time in my teens. At that time, I never knew that I would spend the better part of my adult life working and living here. I started working for the US Postal Service after serving in the Army for 8 ½ years and came to Boulder in 1993. I continue to work here and have met many wonderful people who are dear friends to me still. The connections I have made because of Boulder are ones that I will always cherish.

I first heard about the Boulder Tattoo Project on NPR while driving home with some friends from a meeting. I thought, ‘What a strange reason to get a tattoo.’ But after hearing about the idea, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more, so of course I went home and looked up the website to find out more. After learning more about the artwork and the inspiration behind it, I emailed right away to see if I could still be a part of it and was very excited to find out that there was still space.

I’m not a stranger to tattoos. I got my first shortly after joining the Army and now, at age 50, have more than twenty of them, with more planned. The tattoos I have are all inspired by my spirituality and so I tried to get a phrase that would go along and blend in with my current state of mind. The first three I requested were taken quickly and so were the next three.  Feeling discouraged, I searched the list of remaining phrases again—and then I found it:  ‘your guardian.’

When I think about Boulder, one of the first things that come to mind is ‘tree hugging dirt worshipers.’ Well . . . I am one of them. That is one of the things that has always made me feel a close connection to Boulder. People really seem to care . . . about the environment . . . about the city . . .and about each other. At least this is how I have experienced it. Many Boulderites look for connections . . . to the earth and to each other. That is why it has always felt like a very special place to me. It doesn’t take long to get from the full city experience into nature. Leaving the cement behind is one of my favorite pass-times . . .  Boulder is a great place to experience the beauty that Colorado has in store for those who seek it.

I placed my phrase right above my Gaia/Mother Earth tattoo as a reminder that the Earth is our guardian, as we are hers. I am happy to have been a part of this project and to have added an additional connection with Boulder and with all of the people involved in this artwork.”

Teri Moody

Teri Moody’s “your guardian”

Kristen McCormac’s “close to tundra”

Tundra dwells wherever high places dream
In vivid tones, those elements play.
The precious pulse of earth and sky stream
through like some divine whisper, a song of
little separation.

Here there is a sweetness that gifts the
heartiest her passage of survival.
Learning always to adapt and evolve. Return
again to a more primal essence.
Distill back down.

Cloaked in the beauty of simplicity and a strength
so certain,
This is a place of awe,
Rugged, fragile and wise.
It pulses with a knowing whose tenacity was
imprinted from the beginning.

In this landscape of spirit, high above the
place you expect green life to grow, only the
most patient of visions come to manifest.
Like some valiant right of evolution, the
force of life battles upward with a fierce

The sweeping winds, a bone deep cold,
That vision lays dreaming in the dark under
frozen earth.
When the time is right a potent will calls her
to awaken and head toward the sun.

Given just enough light and protection to make
it all possible,
When she rises she wastes no time.
Her bloom magnificent
Her petals precious and rare
Her existence so profound the heart of
compassion is born with a scream.

A mandala of nature beyond the claim of man.
Nature’s harsh embrace sculpted her into
something more resilient.
So near the sky her wilderness reigns untouched.

A language of mystery talks through this

desolate expanse.
Meadows of wildflowers hum to the sun, blankets
of stars sing back in the night.
This poetry is reawakened by a space that truly
Heaven speaks
Vajra sky to life below,
Find your truth here, be free.

Your footprint sealed in the earth like an altar
of raw simplicity,
Each step a kiss and a prayer,
You just another element brought to the quiet of
these far up lands to dance with an ancient
light and the impulse of survival.

Invoking such a strength always near, her
presence like some transcendent friend,
Wherever high places dream, you are close to
This is the Way, now fired in the kiln for the
path ahead.

Kristen McCormack

Kristen McCormack’s “close to tundra”

Vicki Branaghan’s “O hungry Leo”

“I was born on August 10th, ‘Oh mighty Leo.’ I chose my phrase to always remind myself that I am and will always be enthusiastic, loving, faithful, creative, and strong. I have placed my phrase on my beautiful, strong, healthy rib cage and keep it in my soul as a constant reminder to always have the courage to ROAR like a lion and to live my life to the fullest, believing in myself and moving forward down my path.

Thank you for this wonderful experience!”

Vicki Branaghan

Vicki Branaghan’s “O hungry Leo”

Sean Helds’ “keep scales aligning”

“I grew up in Southern California. Every winter, my friends and their families would come out to Colorado to go skiing (yes, envious), and when it came time to go to college, many of those same friends came out to CU Boulder, and every time I spoke with them (either during those winters or after college), they ALWAYS said how AMAZING Colorado was, and especially the City of Boulder and the CU Campus! In 1992, I decided it was time to leave LA (I was looking for a place where I could raise my yet-to-be-created family, and knew LA was too big of an obstacle), and after ALL those conversations with friends, I chose Colorado (I would have moved straight into Boulder, but at the time, and with limited resources, I selected Westminster for its proximity to Boulder and Denver). To this day, this could quite possibly be the best decision I have ever made (of course, after asking my beautiful wife to marry me within 5 days of meeting her).

When I heard about the Boulder Tattoo Project on CPR Radio, I jumped quickly on the opportunity. After I was selected as a participant, I was able to get my wonderful daughter Sierra and my amazing nephew Kurt to also become participants. Even though I didn’t quite get my first choice, I am completely elated with ‘keep Scales aligning’! I chose my left shin (yes, OUCHIE), with the type reading from knee down so I can see it when I cross my legs, as a constant reminder of the struggle I, and most people, have with having to weigh continuous choices in my life (i.e. do I pull my car over when I see that someone needs assistance; do I reprimand my children for something that ultimately is silly in the whole realm of things; do I consider an employment offer from a competing company, etc.). Since receiving the tattoo, I have looked at it with pride countless times and the whole reason behind selecting the phrase holds true every day!

Thank you so very much, Chelsea, for allowing me and my family to participate and for all you have done to get the project to the finish line!!!”

Sean Helds

Sean Helds’ “keep Scales aligning”

Ashton Howe’s “to the prairie”

“I would like to dedicate my tattoo to my dear cousin, whose recent death has left my family and I reeling with heartbreak. He was raised with me along the prairies of Illinois, before journeying west to find a home at Naropa. If I could honor his life in your beautiful work, I would be forever grateful.

‘To the man who showed us –with quirky smile, gentle wit – that family is more than both blood and name; whose sun dawned with ours beneath Prairie State sky, and set heartbreakingly soon behind the Flatirons.

You are missed and loved eternally, and we will carry you always toward the endless horizon of prajna garbha.

Topher Stoelting, 1990-2014″

Ashton Howe

Ashton Howe’s “to the prairie”

Lisa Roberts’ “who” & a comma

“’soul mate to the prairie dog perhaps/who surveys the environs with keen eye’

‘who’ is a simple, open-ended word. It’s a word that makes me stop, ask, and feel a connection with another person.

Twenty years ago in Boulder, who did I fall in love with and help create two beautiful children? My husband! Who is poetic, an over achiever, wise beyond her years, athletic, smart, and compassionate? My daughter! Who is happy-go-lucky, my star, protective, sensitive, and open-minded? My first son! As foster-to-adopt parents in Boulder County, we have opened our home, minds, and hearts to so much more. Who has overcome so many challenges, is strong-willed, has the biggest hug, a contagious laughter, and a smile that melts your heart? My second son! Who has attention-getting blond hair & blue eyes, loves the great outdoors & animals, and is quite curious? My third son! All the people I have encountered, befriended, and loved have had some influence on who I am today; each of them has a story and a place in my life. You are all stars in my eyes.

My word is surrounded by three stars on the inside of my left heal. Afterwards, a comma tattoo with 3 more stars was still available and it only felt natural, more balanced to mirror them on my right heal, representing our family of six. These were my first tattoos. I am proud to be a part of this fun project, to have deeper ties to the Boulder area and the people living here or simply passing through.

I love Boulder and those ‘who’ surround me!”

Lisa Roberts

Lisa Roberts’ “who” & a comma

Dana Reynolds’ “re-inventing herself”

“I am 31 years old. I had been pondering the idea of getting a tattoo for several years, but couldn’t seem to find just the right thing to have inked on my body for the first time. Maybe I was just too nervous about it. Then I heard about the Boulder Tattoo Project and it really piqued my curiosity.

The community aspect of the project was very much in sync with what I have fallen in love with about the Boulder area. I moved here from Los Angeles about 6 years ago and found the people simply amazing in their friendliness and willingness to help others. Pretty different compared to the general population of L.A. In the time I have lived here, I have experienced rich spiritual growth and I think I owe much of that to an open-minded and generally nurturing environment. I have been learning from some amazing teachers who have guided me to an ever-more-fulfilling and joyous life. I have gone from being a clinically socially anxious person to being free of many hindrances.

Then I got to read ‘Boulder Zodiac’ and found many phrases that stood out to me. One, however, really seemed to define my life in the Boulder area over the last few years. It also reminded me that I want to continue to grow and nurture my body, mind, and spirit. “re-inventing herself” was definitely it and I placed the tattoo on the inner part of my left forearm so that it could serve as a constant reminder to make the right choices. I desire to live a satisfying, happy life. If I make a mistake that leads me away from that goal, I know that I can re-gain my focus and that I have another day to try it again.”

Dana Reynolds

Dana Reynolds’ “re-inventing herself”