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    Posted June 26, 2010 by
    Larose, Louisiana
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Track the oil disaster

    Tattoo parlor's mural/paintings reflects oil spill anger


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     bobbypitre's mural has been seen in several iReports and on CNN.
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer

    Eric' story is first




    My name is Eric Guidry. I work as a tattoo artist at Southern Sting Tattoo Parlor in Larose, Louisiana alongside the shop owner, Bobby Pitre. It might not seem like any regular day tattoo artist would be affected by this oil spill, but the truth is we are being affected the same as everyone else. We depend on our shrimpers, crabbers, oyster men, oil workers and anyone else who works in these fields to make the money that supplies us a living from this art form.


    Bobby and I started painting signs to show the public how we feel and to try and get our community to stand up and say thier beliefs about this spill. Our signs are the gateway for our people to stand up and voice their opinions no matter what they believe.


    I painted President Obama's campaign portrait and made it into my own creation. Instead of the words "hope" or "change", I inserted "WHAT NOW?" across his forehead with his entire being surronded by question marks. In this picture I am stating a question to the nation, our nations leaders, and the world asking what is the next step to secure our community and our heritage from disappearing from the face of this earth. While waiting for answers to all our questions, we are dreadfully anticipating the death of our homeland. In my honest opinion, I do not believe that our leaders responded to this disaster quickly enough. I now see our president in a different light, he is not the same person I rooted for in the presidential election.


    I hope that our paintings can create an image in people's minds that they can relate to and understand. Painting is a major part of my life. Painting helps me relax and deal with stress of this situation through my canvas, but also helps my voice be heard by the nation. At the moment bobby and I are painting neater full color potraits of our paintings outside the building and I will be painting more to voice my opinion and show the devastating effects to our community. It is sad to see our culture being destroyed by this oil spill and the major oil companies that are too greedy for thier own good. I am not against drilling but I hope that our dependence on oil can be lowered. Going green will have to be taken in a slow stride that will hopefully turn into a full sprint to turn green. but I guess i'm dreaming right? I know in my heart I will not see this nation go green in my life time and I am only twenty years old. What a shame....


    Now Bobby's Story




    My name is Bobby Pitre, owner of Southern Sting Tattoo Parlor in Larose, La. Back in April, I heard of an explosion on a platform in the Gulf. When things like this happen, you often wonder if a friend or family member was on the rig and if they were hurt. In the following days after the explosion, the surf came up. My girlfriend and I decided to go surfing as we figured this might be our last chance to enjoy the beach for a couple of weeks...and as it turns out,  it will be a hell of alot longer than that!! Days past and the horror of the Deepwater Horizon explosion started to set in. I know how delicate the marsh and it's ecosystem are and with all that oil splurging out of the ground...all I could think about is how devastating this could get. The mood around town was pretty stagnant. No one but the fisherman seemed to be worried about it. I knew the fisherman were extremely upset about losing out on their shrimping season and quite possibly, their way of life. I felt I had to paint a vivid picture in the publics mind to get them to truly understand the severity of this horrific tragedy. Moreover, I hoped to get the rest of the world to see the sickening reality we are facing. I started out with a street side sculpture of a man drenched in oil, wearing a respirator and holding a oil soaked fish and sign saying "God help us all". A few days later, I added a sculpture of a little girl crying to represent the children affected. The sculpture immediatly attracted the attention of both locals and passers-by. I began talking to Eric Guidry, a co-worker of mine, about things we could paint to show everyone the truth about the Gulf Coast catastrophe. As we are tattoo artist, we decided to do huge paintings representing the things we felt people needed to be concerned with. The paintings grabbed serious media attention and our message is now being spread around the world. After painting the signs, I seemed to fall into a depression because I felt that our way of life was being ripped away from us without any means of stopping it. I started sleeping longer, sometimes 12-15 hours a day, and not wanting to get out of my shop. I had to find a way to deal with the stresses of the Crisis, so Eric and I started painting on canvases. I started with a portrait of Bobby Jindal and the word "bonhomme", French for good man. I felt it was a way to pay homage for his efforts to save an entire culture staring death in the face. The AP interviewed me, and asked me what I thought about Tony Hayward out at the yacht races...I told them them how I felt, and then painted a portrait to further express my frustrations. I painted him with donkey ears and teeth, the background is splattered with oil, and the words "burro of bad news", above his head, the painting is now up for bid on e-bay...hopefully it sells, then I can take a holiday just like ole' Tony. This spill will affect us for a long time, and it will affect our children and our children's children...All because BP wanted to cut corners, and save a few million. My question is, "How will BP, or anyone else ever make this up to us?"

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