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Mural turning heads at local tattoo parlor

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Christmas is still more than a month away, but owners of an area business are getting a jump on the holiday season, with the help of a glass canvas and a splash of color.

Staff members of ABT Tattoo, located at 94-A Woolsey Rd., in Hampton, are putting the finishing touches on a winter-themed acrylic mural on the storefront window.

Denise Brennan manages the shop, which specializes in custom tattooing, with her husband, Todo, and came up with mural concept. She says her motivation for the painting, came from a desire to put a much-needed smile on the faces of people in the area. "I just felt it's been a hard year for everybody, in reference to the economy," she says. "There are people who may not have Christmas this year. We wanted to do something to give back, to give people something pleasant to look at and to get them in the holiday spirit."

The next step for the Brennans was to determine whose style the mural would emulate. Denise says this aspect of the project was the easy part. "As artists, we really like [painter] Thomas Kinkade," she adds. "We looked at a lot of his work, and put together how we wanted the window to look. He's known as the 'artist of lights,' and that's what we wanted to bring - bright lights and happy thoughts."

The couple worked with one of their employees, tattoo artist, Jet Turner, to create a scene featuring snow-capped Christmas trees, reindeer, a frozen pond and a snowman. Denise says it took a few days for local residents to catch on to what the trio was trying to accomplish. "When you start to layer a painting or picture, people don't get it from just standing outside the box," she explains. "It takes time to build up to what you want it to look like. But, as they've seen the progression of the mural, we've had [more] people come through. They just sit and watch us. We never would have thought, when we started this project, that it would get so much attention."

Turner has been an artist since he was 4 years old. He says the ABT mural is the largest project he has ever undertaken, adding that he is glad his efforts have caught the eyee of passers-by. "We've had people who drive through the parking lot to see the mural," says Turner. "A few of them have even walked up to us while we were painting, to see it up close. I enjoy being out there painting, because it draws people in."

Janie Perez, 74, of Hampton, is a regular patron of Curves women's health club, which is next door to the tattoo parlor. She says she has enjoyed watching the mural come together. "I appreciate art, and this is a good piece of art," she says. "I have a sister who does that kind of work, and I think it's wonderful."

Sydnie Glanton, 46, agrees with Perez. Glanton, also a fan of Thomas Kinkade, saw the painting for the first time Thursday, and was visibly taken with the artwork. "It reminds me of the warmness of the holidays, and family," she says. "It's beautiful."

Todo Brennan admits the mural allows him and his wife, to do something neither of them had ever done before. "We had always wanted to do an oil painting or something else for this spot," he says. "When she brought up the mural idea, I thought it might be a good opportunity to give it a try, and see if we're any good at it."

The painting has also enabled the team of artists to put their respective personalities on display. Todo notes that his 1941 Chevrolet assumes the role of Dasher, Dancer and the other reindeer in the painting, by pulling Santa Claus on his sleigh.

He adds that the painting gives him and his wife a chance to counter a negative opinion held by some individuals regarding his line of work.

"A lot of people get freaked out about tattoo shops," says Todo. "We want to show them we're artists, and we're not bad people. The mural makes people more comfortable. When people are happy like that, it makes me happy."