The biggest clue may have been in the most basic element: The circle.
From its inception, there was a mystery embedded in the Lexington Tattoo Project. What image would be formed when all the dots and circles in the tattoos that more than 200 Lexington-area residents got were put together?
The answer was revealed Friday night at a party at Busters Billiards and Backroom, along with answers to some other mysteries and some surprises.
The design turned out to be a circle with a number four surrounded by little circles scattering out from the edges, drawing inspiration from one of the foundations of Lexington's landscape, New Circle Road or Ky. 4.
"While sorting through different options for the background image, we tried to avoid the predictable (horses, basketball, and bourbon) and to find something still recognizable to everyone who calls Lexington home," project creators and organizers Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova wrote in a statement.
"Because we wanted to work with a part of the Lexington landscape and because both of us have long loved maps, our decision didn't take long: we would use the symbol for New Circle Road, a Lexington ring road that is often used as a landmark."
Gohde and Todorova, who both teach at Transylvania University, also said they were inspired by the superhero collective The Fantastic Four, whose symbol is echoed by New Circle's highway symbol, and in an interview, Gohde noted that at some point the road was referred to as Circle 4.
The other mystery revelation created a circle of its own: back to one household.
The Lexingtonian who got the symbol tattooed on his body is Hendrick Floyd, husband of Bianca Spriggs, who wrote the poem that was split up and tattooed on the bodies of 254 project participants.
Floyd is well-known as an artist and as the gregarious man behind the bar at Third Street Stuff for several years and now at West Sixth Brewing. Helping maintain the mystery, Floyd was actually shuttled over to the party from his evening shift at West Sixth.
Among other unveilings was a music video featuring Spriggs reading her poem about Lexington, The (blank) of the Universe, to music by Lexington native Ben Sollee.
Other cities are considering tattoo projects of their own. Already, Boulder, Colo., has joined in, and Gohde and Todorova have been working to create an open-source template for tattoo projects with the Knight Foundation, which has already provided financial support for the project. That support includes a book about the project that will be released early next year.
Friday night's party, part of the third-annual PRHBTN Festival, was a night to celebrate the culmination of the year-long project and that no matter where tattoo projects go, the idea started in Lexington.
IF YOU GO
What: Festival focusing on "art forms that have been criminalized, marginalized and under-appreciated in the mainstream," according to the PRHBTN website. Includes artwork, music, demonstrations by international and local artists, and two auctions.
When: Through Nov. 17.
Where: Centered at Buster's Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St.
SCHEDULE AND HIGHLIGHTS
Murals: During the weekend, Gaia will be creating a mural at West Sixth Brewing, 501 West Sixth St. Odeith and Phlegm will be painting in the North Limestone neighborhood. Maps will be available at Busters.
Nov. 16: Open gallery with talks and demonstrations, noon-5 p.m. Bourbon Barrel Project on Town Branch closing party and auction, 5 p.m. Concert with Paper Diamond, Wick-It the Instigator, Ellie Herring, Dropship and DJ Jamples. $15 advance, $18 at the door. 8 p.m. All at Busters.
Nov. 17: Open gallery with talks and demonstrations, noon-8 p.m. at Busters.