"Tokyo Jesus" by Gaki Devil

“Tokyo Jesus” by Gaki Devil

This year, skip SantaCon and travel into the belly of Beasticon, opening next week at Mark Miller Gallery. “Instead of hollow conviviality and amped-up displays of holiday spirit,” goes the invite, “The artists were asked to fearlessly reflect inward on the nature of the Beast or the shadow self.”

For the exhibit, 27 artists from as far away as Australia and Tokyo and as close to home as Bushwick (in the case of gonzo street performer Matthew Silver, who’ll perform at the opening) will – to quote L7 – “bring out the monster, the monster in me.”

Curators Antony Zito and Lori Nelson, who also curate for the Governors Island Art Fair, love discovering under-the-radar art that addresses the hidden self or the outsider. Nelson’s own work tends to unmask inner grotesquery. “My characters, often cute monster kids, appeal to viewers to love them anyway,” she told us. One series, “Credere Volo” (“I want to believe” in Latin) depicts those kids as well as cute aliens praying feverishly – a nod to her Mormon upbringing.

"We're Not So Different, You and I" by Tina Lugo

“We’re Not So Different, You and I” by Tina Lugo

Takano, Eimi "Mushroom Bear" by Eimi Takano

Takano, Eimi “Mushroom Bear” by Eimi Takano

Bronx-based erotic Artist Tina Lugo – who credits ‘90s cartoons, videogames and Japanimation as her main influences – will paint a homoeroticized Oni on the gallery’s storefront window. An Oni, for those who aren’t familiar with Japanese folklore, is a demon often depicted as a hideous ogre-like man with horns, claws and other deformities.

“They have been considered the ‘strong beyond strong,’” explained Lugo, adding, “There’s something deeply appealing to me about a being that is very masculine and yet makes others uncomfortable due to his sexuality.” Lugo will also include two glass paintings in the exhibition – one featuring a group of female satyrs (creatures that are normally associated with sex and drink) bashing a same-sex couple. “As people we often forget we are still animals, and sexual beings with primal natures. A satyr seemed the perfect way to depict this,” said Lugo.

Portrait by Antony Zito

Portrait by Antony Zito

Other works include the hyperrealistic head of an angler fish by Joanna Mulder; Mica Angela Hendrick’s art, which she creates in collaboration with her four-year-old; hybrid creatures such as “Mushroom Bears” built by Takano Eiki and the photography of Laetitia Soulier, which blends the rational and fantastical. Now in its second year, Beasticon is eschewing the holiday spirit – which was just fine with last year’s visitors. “They seemed relieved that we weren’t pushing false cheer,” said Nelson. “Beasticon II: Monstrous Art by Uncaged Creatures,” Dec. 11 to Jan. 11 at Mark Miller Gallery, 92 Orchard St.; opening Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 from 6-9pm