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Tattoo Artists Ink Arms and Sell Art at Benefit for Restore Red Hook

By Alan Neuhauser | December 14, 2012 5:28pm | Updated on December 14, 2012 6:56pm

RED HOOK — Get inked for a good cause by some of the world's most respected tattoo artists at a tattoo, art-auction and live music fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy recovery in Red Hook Sunday afternoon.

Renowned tattooist and Red Hook resident Ethan Morgan, owner of Rivington Tattoo on the Lower East Side, and five colleagues will be inking Red Hook-themed designs for $50 to $100. Dozens of ocean- and Red Hook-inspired paintings, drawings and tattoo machines will also be on sale, and Brooklyn rock-and-roll band Brothers NYC will perform.

The event, which Morgan expects to draw anywhere from 200 to 500 people, runs from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Kidd Yellin Gallery at 133 Imlay St. in Red Hook. Proceeds will benefit Restore Red Hook, a fundraising group helping neighborhood restaurants and brick-and-mortar retail shops get back on their feet.

"This all came together maybe three weeks ago. That's what makes it so incredible — everybody dropped everything to get involved," Morgan, 48, said. "We outgrew two spaces within a week and a half….We've got stuff from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Italy, France. All these people just said, 'Sure, I'll send something.'"

Patrons looking for a Red Hook-themed tattoo can choose from 26 designs, ranging from storm clouds and umbrellas, to storm-tossed ships, sea monsters, seahorses, and a naked woman bearing a pennant with the word, "Sandy, while riding astride a skull-topped bird.

"Lots of demons and mermaids," Morgan described. "There's some really unique work."

Restore Red Hook has raised more than $200,000 for neighborhood businesses — about $25,000 from the New York Business Development Corporation, the rest from private donors. On Tuesday, the organization distributed $4,000 of that amount to about 50 local shops and restaurants.

"People have been really, really, really wonderful," said Monica Byrne, a co-founder of Restore Red Hook and co-owner of home/made, a restaurant on Van Brunt Street that was severely flooded during Hurricane Sandy. "We're trying to not just get everybody open, but to keep everyone open."

Byrne said she doesn't plan to get a tattoo Sunday — "I'm not an ink girl," she described. But she added that her partner and home/made co-owner Leisah Swenson is looking forward to a new tattoo: two red hooks, facing toward each other to form a heart.