Carthage is known as something of a mecca for artists, and one family is moving to Carthage in hopes of bringing a new kind of art — one that is currently effectively banned under the city code.

Carthage is known as something of a mecca for artists, and one family is moving to Carthage in hopes of bringing a new kind of art — one that is currently effectively banned under the city code.
The Carthage City Council heard on first reading on March 13 Council Bill 18-12, which was approved unanimously by the Public Works Committee, that would remove “tattoo parlor” from the zoning category AE, or adult entertainment, and move it to the general business category.
The council will likely take a final vote on the issue at its March 27 regular meeting, slated for 6:30 p.m., at Carthage Council Chambers, 326 Grant St., Carthage.
The change would allow Dawn and Kenny Moheit to open a tattoo studio in a former office building at 511 Lyon St.

Selling change
Dawn Moheit said the couple want to open the studio, to be named Elusive Body Arts Tattoo Studio, in the historic district, but they realized they were going to have to convince the Carthage City Council to change the city zoning ordinance.
Dawn and Kenny Moheit, who live in Nevada until they can find a place to live in Carthage, appeared before the Public Works Committee on March 6 to plead their case.
They talked about the health concerns about people doing their own piercings or turning to “scratchers,” amateur tattooers who work out of their homes.
“So many of the younger generation wants tattoos and piercings, but they put themselves at risk by going to unsanitary and unprofessional people, their friends' house, their friends' garages,” Dawn Moheit said. “We want to offer those people a safe place, clean, a properly trained, professional place to get those tattoos and piercings.”
Moheit said they also want to help keep in Carthage money that's going to tattoo studios in Webb City and Joplin.
“My husband and I want to stress to you that we're not scratchers or newbys trying to pop up a temporary shop to do poor quality, unsafe things,” Dawn Moheit said told the committee. “We have plans to stay, have a classy studio that offers artistry in the tattoo and piercing industry. Our studio will not only be classy, but carry our high standards, cleanliness, professionalism, artistry and ethics.
“We don't do tattoos of hate, we don't pierce privates for anyone under the age of 18, even though the state law states here in Missouri you can pierce a minor with parental consent. I won't do it. We promote tattoos that show survival, like nipple reconstruction for breast cancer survivors, semi-colons for suicide awareness, and diabetes bracelets for those suffer from type 1 and type 2 diabetes, memorial tattoos for loved ones, scar cover-ups for people who have low self-esteem because of scars due to abuse or accidents.”

Committee support
The Moheits told the Council's Public Works Committee that tattoos and the art of creating them no longer carries the stigma it did in the 1950s and 60s when it was considered something only soldiers, sailors and members of gangs had done.
“In the 1940s whenever tattooing was originally, basically, banned in Carthage, back then it was associated with military people or gangs of sorts, to fly their colors, so to speak,” Dawn Moheit said. “Now, today, everybody has them. It is a way of showing your art, showing your history, showing your life story, how you may have survived something, memorializing someone you loved. I haven't seen a president yet with a tattoo, but it's coming.”
Council Member Brady Beckham said at that meeting he considers including tattooing establishments with “Adult Entertainment,” to be unnecessary.
He and committee members Ceri Otero and David Armstrong supported the change. Committee chairman Mike Daugherty was absent.
“In my opinion, this is an outdated ordinance that's just unnecessarily regulating business,” Beckham said. “And I don't think we need to unnecessarily regulate business, so I would be in favor of a general change rather than a specific exception for one business. Let's be very clear that we're not playing favorites.”

In love with Carthage
The Moheits have lived in several communities across the country as they have plied their trade.
Dawn and Kenny Moheit have three children, Hailey, 14; Leland, 10; and Kenny Jr., 12.
Dawn said they've lived in Oklahoma, south Texas, and Georgia over the past decade before moving to Nevada, Mo., to help a friend start a tattoo studio.
After they moved to Nevada, Dawn Moheit said she kept finding herself in Carthage looking for things they couldn't find in Nevada, and gradually she fell in love with Carthage.
“It's got that small-town charm, that's what draws me to a place,” Dawn Moheit said. “I've been told I was an old soul and I just found myself every chance I got in Carthage. It was all of it, the architecture of the old houses, the town Square, the history, it's an old feel and it drew me in to look more into Carthage and learn more about the history and about the town and how it came about. Route 66, with us originally from Oklahoma, Route 66 is a big thing, then finding out that Carthage is associated with that as well, it tied in our roots to a new area and we felt at home.”
Kenny Moheit said he's more a big-city kind of person and was looking to move to Springfield or Joplin, but Dawn's enthusiasm sold him on Carthage.