John Barlog and John Burtle's Open Arms: Two Dudes Who Run a Gallery Located on Their Arms
The idea behind Open Arms is a simple one: two L.A. guys, each with a tattooed spot on one of their forearms, provide those spots as a space for artists to create work.
Fela Kim and Inger Koerselman 2007
But John Barlog and John Burtle don't really think of themselves as curators like someone running a conventional gallery might -- they just want to show art anytime and anywhere they can, even if that means being tied together, getting glue in their arm hair, or having little objects taped or strapped on their skin.
"It is a little complicated talking about it, since we've asked that our names not be used, but we try to remove the authorship out of the project," say "the Johnz." They've also been referred to as the space's hosts, john and john, traveling open art display (TOAD) or nothing at all, and in this interview, quotes are attributed to both of them together.
Sea and Space Explorations
These "hosts" take their role as self-contained public gallery space seriously, whether they participate with an artist in a traditional setting, or meet one randomly walking down the street who doodles all over their skin.
In 2007 the Johnz had one rectangle (two inches by four inches) inked onto each of their left forearms, and since then that real estate has provided a non-commercial, public exhibition space for artists to show work. But the Open Arms "space" brings a very different set of logistical considerations than an artist might grapple with in a conventional exhibition environment. It combines a sense of permanence (the space of the tattoos themselves), mobility (into all aspects of one's daily routine) and temporality (the work could potentially wash off in the shower if the Johnz aren't careful).
Anonymous 2009 curated by Sea and Space Explorations