It is not uncommon for a tattoo shop to house art, but not every shop calls itself an art gallery and opens its doors to 17 artists and their monster-themed works of art.

Tattoo Revival sits among the plethora of stores that participate in Winston-Salem’s First Friday events.  From first glance it appears to be just another tattoo shop.

The frames that outlined some of the pieces by artists from North Carolina and beyond coordinated with the art — in one portrait, a skull seemed to melt right into the wooden frame that held it captive.

“I don’t like the way it’s looking at me,” one visitor said, staring at the skull.

Looking up at it from a stroller, a little voice asked, “Is that your show work?”

The red-haired toddler was fearless against the painted creatures on the wall, reaching out of her stroller to touch portraits that were way beyond her grasp.

Her father, Tyler Pennington, was a featured artist in the show.

Pennington smiled and maneuvered the carriage in the direction of the lurching creature he designed in vibrant acrylics.

His daughter showed no fear.

But not all the pieces entered into the exhibit could be classified as dark or eerie.

“One of my favorite pieces has a comic-book like feel to it,” attendee Ashley Watts said. “They are all creature-based so I do like that. The Trump one is also one of my favorite pieces with the zombie face. I also like the lady. I don’t know what they were going for but it was really light and airy.”

One artist’s interpretation of a creature bore the face of presidential nominee Donald Trump, or rather the figure of Trump with a decaying face and the words “Trumpers” dedicating the portrait to the man that it used to be.

On the other side of the gallery hung the portrait of a nude woman prominently exposing her body and challenging viewers to look past her sewn lips to take in her beauty.

Monsters come in many forms.

As the night lingered on, a diverse array of patrons dropped in. There were elders in windbreakers and boat shoes, youngsters wearing everything from khakis to spiked leather coats and people displaying extravagant headpieces and uniquely designed shrouds.

Living works of art viewing art.

Hugo Pindea, a featured artist and tattooist at Golden Spiral, who created a seemingly harmless looking scarecrow, surprised many viewers with his take on the creature theme by using muted watercolor paints and liquid acrylics for blood splatters in his artwork.

“It was hard for me to develop that (fear),” Pindea said. “It was more of, ‘How do I develop this foreground to go with this background?’ Or, ‘How do I make this scarecrow look like it did something?’ I don’t think I was happy until I did the blood splatters.”

After a while, artists, employees, tattooists and friends had become hard to distinguish, because everyone who had entered the doors of Tattoo Revival seemed to wear more than one hat.

Shop owner John Slater floated in the crowd engaging guests ensuring visitors were having a good time without taking the spotlight from the artists.

“People ask people who make things: ‘Why do we makes things?’” Slater said. “We always ask, ‘Why don’t you?’”

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