With a “day of anger” expected to keep police busy and SantaCon’s organizers asking its drunken devotees to stick to a list of participating bars in Murray Hill and Hell’s Kitchen rather than marauding through the streets, the annual Running of the Santas promises to be a lower-key affair this year (an as-yet mysterious “exciting starting point” will be revealed tonight). But while SantaCon may be playing itself down, Beasticon has come back like a thing possessed.
Having spoken with curators Antony Zito and Lori Nelson last week, we stopped by last night’s opening at Mark Miller Gallery to chat with a few more of the artists who were asked to “fearlessly reflect inward on the nature of the Beast or the shadow self.”
When Mica Hendricks, a former Army photolithographer, started drawing faces in a sketchbook, her young daughter Myla (now 5) asked if she could add to them. The results were amazing. “It was great!” Hendricks said. “She started adding dinosaur bodies, bird bodies.” After posting that joint venture online and watching it go viral, Hendricks decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign for a book of the collaborations, Share with Me. The mother-daughter illustrations fit with Beasticon, says Hendricks, because “it is a mix-up of strange things that celebrates the odd.”
For her current project, #StuffMylaSays, Hendricks draws whimsical illustrations around her daughter’s dreamlike, insightful quotes. She uses a ballpoint black pen, watercolors and acrylics to avoid giving her drawings an excessively polished look.
Mockingbirds aside, Hendricks likes giving expression to monstrosity. “I think it’s fun to bring out that side of yourself that is hidden. it’s like flying the freak flag, celebrating your weird side,” she said.
Joanna Mulder loves mermaids. “I’ve always thought the idea of a mermaid is cool, and really kind of terrifying,” she said. “You always see them depicted as beautifully wanton half-fish, half-lady things which I guess is the appeal.” Mulder is such a lover of the freakish and the supernatural that even when she aims for elegance, her work often ends up having an underlying darkness. Her take on mermaids was inspired by the anglerfish: in her mind, they’re more fearsome and savage than topless, fishtailed bombshells.
Taezoo Park channeled monstrosity via digital waste. His work, “Digital Being,” imagines the existence of an invisible and formless creature amidst the detritus of broken and discarded technologies, including the tube TV.
“This creature evolves and responds to its environment through an atypical movement or specific interaction according to the machinery that it dominates,” said Park in his artist’s statement. Memory chips or CPUs operate via inner command codes. “The code, to me, feels like a creature,” said Park. And what if a code were to realize its consciousness? “Digital Being” tries to answer that question, and is creepily responsive whenever anyone nears it.
Street performer Matthew Silver, another believer in the value of monstrosity, talked to us about love and spontaneity. Play the clip to hear from him.
Here’s a portrait of Silver by Antony Zito:
And a few more works from the exhibit.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled the name of Mica Hendricks’s daughter Myla.