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Eclectic canvases on display at annual Colorado Springs motorcycle, tattoo event

March 9, 2015 Updated: March 10, 2015 at 12:54 pm
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Marissa Downey rubs an ointment on a tattoo of Edward Scissorhands on the back of Glen Shaffer before he competes in the Annual Colorado Tattoo Competition at the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center on Sunday, March 8, 2015. Shaffer competed in the portrait category and took a third place. JERILEE BENNETT/THE GAZETTE)

Kent Sanders surveyed the dense crowd sitting in rows of chairs in front of him - they were ready for a display of unusual, sometimes provocative artwork.

"With the intricacy of the artwork today, as I mentioned, the bar is getting higher and higher," Sanders announced.

Packed into a back corner of the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center, more than 100 people marveled at pictures of forests, lions, owls and skeletons, all on display and vying for first place. While the artwork may have been vaguely familiar - it included portraits of Kurt Cobain and Johnny Depp - the canvases were not.

Human bodies paraded in front of the audience Sunday, showing off tattoos for three judges as part of a tattoo competition at the 25th annual Motorcycle Show and Swap Meet. The meet filled the center with leather clothing vendors, motorcycles and booths - including for the Sons of Silence, a so-called "outlaw" motorcycle club known for its violent history.

Click here for more photos.

For the 15th and final year, Sanders served as emcee, announcing the contestants' names and describing their tattoos as they walked the length of the stage.

One man swirled a kilt above his bare calves, both completely covered in blue ink. A young woman took the stage with her skirt pulled above her waist, showing off a large skull on her hip.

Men pulled off their shirts and women bared their shoulders to show off tattoos done by southern Colorado artists. Sanders himself was modestly dressed in a pair of black pants and a turtleneck, although tattoos peeked out on his neck and wrists.

More than 200 people registered for the competition, which awards best color, best black-and-white sleeve and best portraits, among other categories. The event appeared to be one of the most popular at the weekend show.

Glen Shaffer of Pueblo sat in the audience while a friend rubbed ointment over tattoos on his back to make them shine for the judges.

A Beetlejuice portrait on Shaffer's shoulder won best portrait the year before, and he was trying his luck with a new tattoo of Edward Scissorhands, a character played by Depp in the 1990 romantic dark fantasy film.

That tattoo got third place.

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