by Eleanor BonBon

Deep in the trawls of that yearlong project, painting the pandemic away — that’s when the shape of Lake Tahoe bit me. Like a werewolf, I succumbed to the realization that I might be transforming into the shape of Tahoe. Hear me out.

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No, I don’t have a Tahoe-shaped tattoo (yet). I do, however, don a handmade, lake-shaped leather keychain, made by a talented local leathersmith. As I type this, I can feel Mount Tallac in all her majesty glowing behind my back. Not one, but two bear carvings grace my knick-knack shelf that I purchased at our local senior center’s rummage sale. I have tattooed the Tahoe themes in all sorts of variations, and strive to create thousands more ways to capture this place within the skin. Nine years of lake living have seeped into my art-making. Smitten with our lore, our flora and fauna, our people in action … in making … the answer I found is Yes.

Tahoe people are the lake’s fragile shell of protection, wall of stewardship, and force field. We transform outsiders into advocates, all eventually bitten by Big Blue. We make the shape of the lake by residing around the rim. Yes, anything we make is Tahoe art, even if Lake Tahoe isn’t featured within the frame.

Excerpt from Once Bitten, an essay by Eleanor BonBon

Eleanor BonBon is a painter residing in South Lake Tahoe, and owner/operator of a local tattoo studio. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration at California College of the Arts. BonBon is committed to the belief that embedding artists into community roles is essential in shaping the societies we are striving to build. Her most recent creative works foster stewardship, promote education, and call people to action.


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