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.”