La Crosse Local

E.183: Cathryn Dagendesh | Painter & Tattoo Artist

Listen to “E.183: Cathryn Dagendesh | Painter & Tattoo Artist” on Spreaker.

I feel like sometimes when I plan out an idea…I’m disappointed in it. So now I just wait until I feel the creative desire to paint…(on the painting process).

On this episode we chatted with artist and tattooist Cathryn Dagendesh, we talked about early influences, the process of creating new work, an instance of racist graffiti and the mural that came out of it, where you can find her work, and what’s next for this artist.This podcast is sponsored by Balancing Act.  Cathryn Dagendes 00:50
My name is Cat Dagendes. Cathryn, but I go by Cat. The funny thing is I was born in Japan, actually on a military base. So, that’s always fun. Okinawa, Japan. Unfortunately, we moved away when I was about maybe three months old, so I don’t have any memory of it. And then I got into art ever since I was a little kid. I just was always drawing and getting into trouble, and getting detention for drawing on books and notepads when I should be learning. So yeah, I’ve been doing it my entire life. And it’s just evolved from there.

Brent Hanifl 01:21
The stuff I’ve seen on Instagram, things like that, I guess more of the painting side? What’s the process like when creating new work? Is it planned out? Or is it something that you kind of just have a basic idea? How does that work?

Cathryn Dagendes 01:32
I don’t know that I plan it out necessarily. I feel like sometimes when I plan out an idea, it just I’m disappointed in it. So now I just wait until I feel the creative desire to paint. A lot of times an idea just pops into my head, or I’ll be walking down the street or going for a hike or something and I’ll get an idea or I’ll see images or something like that. So then I just paint it. And then the strange thing about my art is that I mean, I don’t have a meaning to any of them. But oddly enough, they get meanings later on in life. And the more that I learned about myself, the more I understand, oh, that painting I did two years ago was because this was going on in my life and whatnot.

Brent Hanifl 02:13
For someone who’s maybe never seen it, who wants to check it out, how would you describe your work?

Cathryn Dagendes 02:17
So I really love doing two things in my art, although I like to try to do a little bit of everything, but my favorite is I love to do hands. And I think the reason why I love doing hands is because you can have a lot of expression in them. Faces are really awesome, too. But I prefer to have hands because you don’t have as, I don’t know how to explain it, like hands are more mysterious, I think than faces. So I really love drawing hands and painting hands. I’m tattooing them now. And then I also do this thing called segmentation with my art. It’ll usually be in a body, like a person’s body or hands or whatever. And it’s kind of separated. The best way I can describe that is because, you know, there’s pieces missing and all of us. And that’s how I feel about myself. So I just kind of feel segmented sometimes.

Brent Hanifl 03:05
You kind of referenced there with feeling segmented your work. What do you hope people get out of it? You said it doesn’t really, you don’t know what it means till much later. But what do you hope people get out of seeing some of your work?

Cathryn Dagendes 03:16
I just hope people can see that there’s beauty and pain. And I really feel I didn’t know for a long time that my art looks like that, until many people would come up to me, a lot of people have come up to me, and told me that my art looks like there’s pain in there. And I just thought I was painting. So anyways, so I just hope that people get positivity out of it. I really do.

Brent Hanifl 03:42
And I found your work just kind of going through your Instagram pages and just seeing it connected to the local galleries and things like that. But then, you know, after kind of investigating a little bit. So in early 2019, you and another artist created a mural on State Road after hearing about some kind of racist graffiti being painted on a local business. What was kind of the origin of that collaboration? Was it just some you and a friend just got up and said let’s take care of that?

Cathryn Dagendes 04:08
Yeah, well, my boyfriend Adam, Adam Face, is another local artist. And we woke up one morning seeing that all over social media, and we always try to jump at an opportunity to do murals. I only have a couple under my belt right now. And so it was his idea. He was like, hey, this is really horrible that this happened, we should do a collaboration and I was like, hey, yeah, let’s do it. It was in the middle of February. So really, really cold. But we just decided that it needed to be something that wasn’t going to be super political, but also to say that, hey, this is not okay. And that’s not how you treat people.

Brent Hanifl 04:48
So, also your tattoo artists, how did you transition into that? Or was that something you were always interested in, which one came first, really?

Cathryn Dagendes 04:55
I’ve always been interested in tattooing, I’d say probably the last 10 years. And I always had excuses why I’m not going to do it. So the whole failure thing can be terrifying. And one of my friends who works there, Greg, really talked me into it for about a year and he kept bothering me and bothering me, like, hey, you should really do this, I think you’d be really great at it. So I decided, alright, I’m just going to do it. And I did and I love it. And it’s like, its just like another medium for me. It’s challenging because when you’re working with a live canvas, and it ages over time, and I feel like the process of getting that ink in there is a lot more challenging than just having a piece of paper or a canvas to put on.

Brent Hanifl 05:38
So I’m sure, you know, your life has changed over the past year with the pandemic and everything like that. Things seem to be opening up, there’s art fairs coming up and stuff like that local galleries having shows. What’s next for you, anything happening in this year, and maybe next that you’re looking forward to?

Cathryn Dagendes 05:53
I would like to get out and do some more murals. I have one in the alley off of Main Street, and then I have one at the Barcade. So, I’d like to get more murals around town. That’s one of my goals. But other than that, I’m doing a lot of traveling this year, a lot of backpacking on the Appalachian Trail and then bikepacking to New Orleans. So I’m just kind of traveling a little bit and getting more inspiration and. But I’m just gonna keep doing the art and traveling.

Brent Hanifl 06:25
I feel like at a time like this, that seems like an opportune time to you know, hit the road and go explore a little bit after 2020. So people want to find out more, where can they follow along online? Or maybe if they want to pick up a piece, can they see it in person?

Cathryn Dagendes 06:40
Yeah. So the gallery next door to where I work downtown, it’s on Main Street. River Gallery Art, or Riverside. I’m horrible with names. But I have had my art there for, I think, almost a year or something like that pretty much since they opened. So I have art there and it changes. So I’ll be doing a lot more art here in the next couple of months and get that changing out. Occasionally I have art hung up at Grounded, so as long as people are able to follow me, then they’ll get all the updates on that. And then of course if they come into the tattoo shop, Mind Altering Tattoos. I have art hung up there, too, and I also tattoo.

Brent Hanifl 07:20
Awesome. And it’s River City Gallery of La Crosse on Main Street.

Cathryn Dagendes 07:24
Thank you for getting that.

Brent Hanifl 07:26
That’s all good.

Amy Gabay 07:30
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.

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