Culture 2 Go

Twelve21 Gallery hosts auction to benefit Japanese tsunami and earthquake survivors

If you’ve ever had a hankering – and who hasn’t? – to own an original, hand-painted Japanese Hannya mask, then this Saturday’s exhibition and benefit auction at Laughing Samurai’s Twelve21 Gallery will give you the chance to place a bid on an original one of your own and also make a generous contribution to the still vital cause of Japanese natural disaster relief.

The image of the Hannya mask should be familiar to those with even a passing knowledge of Japanese noh theater or Shinto rituals. These elaborate and highly decorative masks represent the soul of a vengeful and jealous woman, sprouting demonic horns and devilish fangs, yet wearing an expression of sheer anguish and torment. (For those without the slightest awareness of Japanese theatrical tropes: Picture the tortured, feminine face of Star Wars’ Darth Maul after being left at the wedding altar for an idea of what these masks tend to look like.)

The benefit is being presented by special effects artist Nix Herrera and Ascension Tattoo’s Ant Iannucci. Iannucci says he was drawn to co-organize the exhibition and benefit because “so many artists I know, especially those in the tattoo community … draw much artistic inspiration from the vast and varied culture of Japan, and this is just a way to give something back.”

The 50 masks that are available for viewing and bidding are entirely original works of art, designed by a number of incredibly talented regionally and nationally known body and tattoo artists, painters, designers and sculptors. Most of the proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Red Cross to assist with disaster relief efforts for Tohoku earthquake and tsunami survivors in Japan. However, if you can’t attend the auction on Saturday, you can still take a look at – and place a bid on – any of the masks at for up to 10 days following the event.

(A Woman Scorned: The Hannya Mask Project live auction 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at Twelve21 Gallery, 1221 N. Orange Ave.; free.)