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Tattoo meets fine art at Bound by Design's customer appreciation party tomorrow night

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Tattoos are often associated with Lowbrow counter-culture art movements, but it's more common now, especially in Denver, to see tattoo and fine art collide. Zach Custer, co-owner of Anthology Fine Art, a frame shop, photographer's studio and fine art gallery on Santa Fe, explains that the fine art of tattooing is central to their new show this month, and the party associated with the show tomorrow night.

"We sort of fell into this show in early November," he says. "Bound by Design had called us wanting to rent our space on Friday the 13th of this month for a customer appreciation party and art show. We didn't want to take a show down, and hang a new show just for one night so we offered to have the art up all month long."

The show features ten artists who either work at or are associated with Bound by Design, an award-winning tattoo shop on East Colfax. The show's been up since last Friday, but the big event happens tomorrow night, January 13, when Bound by Design hosts their annual customer appreciation party at Anthology -- The Big Swig Basher Ball.

"The whole reason we're doing the party is for customers," explains Bound by Design's Molly Tsunami. "We want to show our customers that we appreciate their business. We will provide free food and alcohol for people 21 and older. There will also be live entertainment, belly dancers, food and of course the gallery showing. Some of the artwork will be for sale, and there will be prints of the art for sale, as well."

Anthology co-owner Kendra Custer (husband-wife team) says that she and Zach were attracted to the unusual perspective. "People outside of the tattoo world don't think of tattoo artists as fine artists, but they are actually very lucrative fine artists," she says. "You can definitely tell how each of these pieces could be influenced by, or become a tattoo. It's neat to see these artists' full visions and how those visions play off each other as part of a group show."

Each artist practices a different medium -- from watercolor pen on illustration board, ink drawings, automotive paint on steel to appropriated street art. "It's a really diverse cross-section of what tattoo artists can do outside of ink on peoples skin," explains Zach. "These artists are working artists and they practice their art every day, so to see what they do from a fine art perspective gives you a chance to experience all the forms fine art can take."

Although the event is primarily a customer appreciation party, Tsunami says the event is open to the public. "We had a huge turnout last year," she says. "Close to 200 people came to the show. So, we want as many people as possible to come."

The party starts at 6 p.m. at 635 Santa Fe Drive. The collection shows through January 28. For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.

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