Satan Rears His...Creative Side

"Separation Anxiety" by Saber

Strolling the quaint, artsy streets of downtown Santa Ana, I would hardly have suspected the lair of sin lurking down one cobblestone lane. Bring your bibles: at Cal. State University Fullerton's Grand Central Art Center, 100 artists have conjured the beast himself in over 100 works of Satan-inspired art.

 

"The Western God Almighty" by Mear

The exhibit, entitled "100 Artists See Satan," is a sumptuous assault on your senses, your sense of humor, and whatever sense of morality you don't check at the door with your camera. Artists both popular and virtually unknown heeded the call for this event, together producing a collection of sometimes personal, sometimes political interpretations of the Devil. Call it Satan's photo album, as seen by some of his most ardent admirers. 

"Host" by Liz McGrath

GCAC's exhibit was organized in response to New York-spawned touring exhibit "100 Artists See God," on display at the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach. After Fullerton learned their museum was not on God's itinerary, Grand Central reacted classically -- they got even. And what better retaliation than pledging artistic allegiance to God's immortal enemy?

The show's opening reception on July 3rd featured visits from most of the exhibit's 100 artists, plus musical performances from a number of local indie bands in the cafe-lined square outside. The evening was topped off by a satisfyingly vaudeville live exorcism, performed by one Reverend Ethan Acres, to indulge the drama devil in all of us. Indoors, attendees took in a lurid display of Satanic art spanning all media from paint to ceramic, to music, to woodwork, to found-object, to figurine...to a goat's chopped-off ear.

"Charon Extreme" by Don Lagerberg

The atmosphere inside the exhibit is chilling and hip; the walls are adorned alternately with grotesque visual renderings, and funky, funny snapshots of Satan in almost every aspect of daily life. Some of the art carries a blatant message about politics and the media. Some of the more abstract pieces don't "say" anything, but evoke in the viewer a vague chill that left me yearning for a warm cup of chicken-noodle soup. A few artists chose to interpret Satan through bewitching, discordant audio compositions; even demonic music swirls through the exhibit like deathly mist from the River Styx.

"A Dime A Dance" by Jim Jenkins

If Hell's Top 40 mix isn't creepy enough, video compositions run continuously on screens, or projected onto the exhibit room walls for added scare. Some show humorously devilish digital manipulations of well-known media and pop-culture icons. Some depict blurry, Blair Witch-like satanic sightings. All are meaningfully realized works of art, representing their creators' imaginings of our lovable downstairs neighbor.

"100 Artists See Satan," on display through September 19th, provides intelligent perspective on how our views of the infernal beast have changed with the times. It is also a thought-provoking reflection on the Devil's function in modern society. Sadly, the show falls just short of supplying Satan's side of things, but perhaps he, too, will pay the show a visit. He may even learn a little about himself through the eyes of his future playthings. But woe be to the artist who made his nose look too big.

For anyone bold enough to brave the deceitfully tranquil streets of Santa Ana, this show is worth a visit. (Click here to learn more... http://grandcentralartcenter.com/gcacPages/Exhibit.html) Now I can rest assured that I've been to hell and back -- and why not? It's only 30 miles away!

 

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