By Katie TerBeest  

Missy Hoch, a native of La Crescent, Minnesota, said that one of the first things she bought as the owner of Gold Heart Tattoo & Art Gallery was a 20-inch disco ball. “My boyfriend looked at me like I was crazy,” she said, laughing. But Hoch had a vision of what she wanted her tattoo shop and art gallery to be, and she loved the fact that buying a disco ball and all things gold could be part of her job in creating a space that’s art-centered and gallery-forward—dedicated to showcasing artwork of all kinds without intimidating anyone. 

“People sometimes still have this idea of how tattoo shops should be, or how they assume they are—this dark, mysterious place,” a ‘boys club’ of sorts—”but with the amount of people who have tattoos, it should not have to be that way,” she explained. “I would paint everything gold if I could,” she added. 

Missy Hoch Gold Heart TattooHoch, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stout, earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in studio art with an emphasis on painting and sculpture in 2012. She said she always found the idea of tattooing to be alluring, and in early 2014 became an apprentice at Twisted Skull Studios in La Crosse. Hoch envisioned having her own art gallery since the time she was in school, and in August 2018 she opened Gold Heart, located on the north side of La Crosse. Although she remains graciously humble about the accomplishment, this female entrepreneur admits that bringing Gold Heart into fruition so quickly was quite a big deal.

“Opening this business is a little bit of a shocker to me—if you had asked me a year ago if I would be doing this, I’d think you were crazy.” 

Besides getting to connect with individual clients, what makes Hoch passionate about her job as an artist is being able to have a technical skill that can turn an idea into reality. For instance, when someone has an idea for a piece but no examples, “A client will approve of the outline I draw up, but the design has much more to it,” she said. “Shading and color theory activate the tattoo and bring it to life,” she continued. “To be able to do that for people who can’t—to know how something would look when the light hits it or play with color to create dimension … helping other people bring art to life is important to me,” she expressed. 

The art gallery also exists to inspire and encourage creativity in our community. New exhibitions will be featured every two to three months, with an opening reception for every show. Anytime Gold Heart is open, the gallery is open to the public for viewing. 

The first show featured work by Landon Sheely, a local artist Hoch credits with collaborating and assisting her with art gallery logistics. During December the gallery was showcasing “Hairdos, Purlieus” by artist Sam Petersen, who is originally from the area. January’s show reception will take place on Jan. 5 from 7-9 p.m. and will be titled, “Compound Cake,” by artist Justin Cameron, who is currently residing in the Twin Cities. A juried, themed group show in April will give many artists the opportunity to showcase their works together. 

Looking further into 2019, Hoch aims to fill the gallery calendar for the year early on … and has aspirations of filling the studio ceiling with more disco balls. 

Gold Heart Tattoo & Art Gallery is located at 1230 Caledonia St. in La Crosse. For more information, including hours and artist reception details, find Gold Heart Tattoo on Facebook, Instagram or visit www.goldhearttattoo.com.