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In Bastrop, a call for tattoo stories generates buzz

A tattoo on an arm that is an outline of the shape of Texas with a yellow rose in the middle and the name Ramirez underneath.
Michael Minasi
KUT News
Ron Ramirez, a former Elgin mayor and board member for the Bastrop County Historical Society, shows the first tattoo he got at the beginning of his military service.

"You'll never get elected with those tattoos."

That’s the refrain former Elgin Mayor Ron Ramirez said he heard when he announced plans to run for office.

“I said, ‘No, I don’t hide my tattoos,’” he said. “But times have changed. ... I don’t think it’s the stigma that it used to be.”

Today, Ramirez is helping shape the upcoming Stories Inked in Skin exhibit at the Bastrop Museum and Visitor Center. The museum is collecting photos of tattoos along with the stories behind them from current and former Bastrop County residents until Sunday. About 16 of them will be highlighted in the exhibit, which opens July 6.

As of Friday, the museum’s collections manager Heather Bloom had already received about 40 submissions.

"It just means that the community is interested in this, and that involvement is really exciting for me," Bloom said. “That’s what we should be doing here in museums is including our community.”

The exhibit is a departure from the many historical artifacts and documents on display at the museum, Bloom says. She said she hopes it challenges stereotypes.

The facade of the Museum and Visitor Center of Bastrop County Historical Society
Michael Minasi
KUT News
The Stories Inked in Skin exhibit will open at the Museum and Visitor Center of Bastrop County Historical Society on July 9.

“It’s a very interesting history on how we look at only certain fringe groups to have tattoos, like people who are really edgy,” Bloom said. “I’m about as edgy as a butterknife, but even I want a tattoo myself.”

Bloom said she’s still a blank canvas for now. Ramirez is thinking of adding to his collection.

Ramirez pointed to his first tattoo, a bold black outline of the state of Texas adorned with a yellow rose and his last name. The Air Force veteran was stationed in Alaska nearly 50 years ago.

“And if I was going to Alaska, I wanted everyone to know that I’m a Texan,” he said.

A person poses while sitting on a bench in a museum
Michael Minasi
KUT News
Ramirez will be submitting a couple of his tattoos for the Stories Inked In Skin exhibit.

Ramirez got inked at a tattoo shop on Guadalupe Street in Austin. He's now up to 12 tattoos, but he hasn’t gotten a new one in about 15 years.

“This exhibit has got me so excited,” he said. “I will get another one probably within the next month.”

Submissions can be emailed to or dropped off in person at the Bastrop Museum & Visitor Center, located at 904 Main St.

Syeda Hasan is a senior editor at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @syedareports.
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