Brilliant, radical, genius, outrageous, original, subversive, Satanic, sexpressionist, the last American painter; these and many other disparate labels have been applied to
Reverend Steven Johnson Leyba.
He is an artist who has been the focus of much controversy, he was appointed as a
Reverend of the Church of Satan by Anton LaVey in 1992, and in 1997 he had his
“Wounded Knee Decomposition” painting censored at a Native American fundraiser at the
KiMo theater in Albuquerque. Two months later he performed his infamous
“Apache Whiskey Rite” at San Francisco politico Jack Davis’ fiftieth birthday party,
gaining national exposure and front page headlines in newspapers like the New York Times, because the performance included Leyba being sodomized by a woman
wearing a bottle of Jack Daniels in a harness.
In many ways Leyba is the artist’s artist and the rebel’s rebel, a true outlaw at the
height of his powers, one could say that Dillinger had banks, and Leyba has galleries.
You can and will think what you like about Leyba and his art, the one point that we
can all agree upon is the fact that here is a committed and uncompromising master
of his craft. An artist who has created an immense body of work in not only painting, but also performance art, film, music, literature, totem, and taboo. He goes beyond
most of his contemporaries by leaps and bounds, for here is a man who makes art
not only on the canvas or page, but of his very life, the living aesthetic.
Leyba is currently embroiled in a censorship battle with Artspace Projects, Inc. (a
national nonprofit organization specializing in housing for creatives. The supposed
goal of Artspace Projects is to serve as a catalyst for community transformation by
providing affordable live/work space to artists.) over his use of the Swastika in some of the work that they invited him to display in the live/work where he resides in
Leyba maintains the point that it is ridiculous for Artspace Projects to take issue with his work, censor it, and demand its removal from the exhibition (all of which they
did do), because he is an artist of a culturally diverse ethnic background. (Leyba is of Mescalero Apache, Navajo, Cherokee, Paiute, Menominee, and Jewish ancestry.) He
says that his use of the symbol is an act of reclamation, that he is taking the sacred
symbolism of his culture out of the hands of fascists and hate groups, and by extension of that he is taking an arrow from the quiver of the fascist corporate Amerikan newspeak.
He is an artist who sees the infinite potential and power of art’s ability to develop dialogue and foster change. Although it’s effect may not always be felt immediately on a
larger political or sociological level, it is felt on the immediate plane of the existence of the viewer. Perhaps this is the quality which makes it truly subversive, and perhaps this is why the powers that be find him a threat that they feel needs to be silenced! Leyba, however, will not be silenced. He knows that this is do or die,
this is #ARTWAR, and “In #ARTWAR there will be casualties”!
We are deeply honored to present this month’s artist. In preparing for this month’s
Spotlight, our subject allowed us rare access into his archives that span nearly 30
years in the life and work of a master painter. We proudly present the unspeakable artistry of a true artist, subversive, and living legend, our
October Spotlight: Steven Johnson Leyba.
The pages in WATER my 16th hand made book are the most personal and most feminine book I have ever done. Depths of animistic water protectors and 12 years of dreaming of floods. At first it may seem this book is apolitical but in many ways it is my most political. Crass' drummer told me that my work "is some of the most political art being created today. The personal is political. The more personal the more political. Your work is the most personal I have ever seen."
Consider if you will the human body as landscape and what man has done and is still doing to the earth and woman's bodies, minds and spirits. What the corporate mind set has done to decimate the earth is a murdering. The woman painted in this book are the earth and are feeling the darkness of change in the world and in their bodies. A transformation beyond the decimation to a level of evolution of the species. An evolution that will happen once we all embrace femininity in actuality and beyond rhetoric. We are all nature and this is what I have painted in the WATER book.
Outlaw vs The Great Satan
Rev. Steven Johnson Leyba is a ritualistic, shamanistic painter of
Mescalero Apache and Jewish ancestry. His
art is equal parts satanic,
holistic, radical, political, and extremely
various media, Leyba creates a celebration of the sacred and profane.
Paint mixes with collage, beadwork, and DNA making bold statements
about the world we live in and constantly
questioning the very nature
Since 1989, Steven Leyba has produced 16
handmade books, huge volumes
of bound works on canvas. Forms of these
have been published by Last
Gasp and Coyotel Press in books containing
commentary by William S.
Burroughs, H.R. Giger, Poppy Z. Brite, Clive
Barker, and Genesis
P-Orridge. He has been the subject of media attention for his
controversial approach and subject matter,
and in 2002 a documentary was made about the artist titled, Unspeakable:The Life & Art of
Reverend Steven Johnson Leyba.
His works are multi-media explorations into
the souls of both
individuals and society as a whole. They are
liberating, honest, and
organic in experience, void of any censorship and defiant against
those who would attempt it. Look for his own documentary, What is Art?
Inside the Mind of the Artist as They Speak
Leyba's artwork has been collected by
Vincent Price, William S.
Burroughs, Stephen King, Clive Barker, David Cronenberg, H.R. Giger,
Cornell University, A.I.M. (American Indian Movement), Genesis
P'Orridge, Lydia Lunch, and the Black Panther Party.
Get your Free download of Leyba's
memoir The Last American Painter and an Exclusive preview of his
We Are All Indians Now
They have been amalgamated into schools, said schools are a device of gallerists and art historians to divide and conquer the creatives and free thinkers.
For we live in a nation which thinks itself to be free yet is not, they expect the same of their artists.
Our culture has been raped and plundered by the upper echelon, picked apart and sold by the same greed mongers who claim to be it's patrons. The tool which has most effectively stunted the growth of modern American art in particular is the clever indoctrination of this idea of schools to not only the art student but anyone whom even reads a brief survey of the history of art sees that it is broken up into these categorized schools; ultimately the philosophies of these various sects creates conflict, division, and ultimately destruction of the morale and submission to the established order. Thus rendering the creative spirit confused and useless.
This helps curb the rebellious spirit of the average citizen outside of the art world in other spheres of society.
Art history is a lie and galleries are dens of thieves!
Inter|Sekt is not destroying the schools or the galleries, we are simply showing you they were never real, at least not in a world outside of that constructed by academics to sell text books to art students.
The reign of the gallerists and art consultants is over when you want it to be.
From the ashes of the indoctrinated schools of every form of art shall arise The New World Creative.
-Steven Lee Matz-
The inter|sekt manifesto
Steven Lee Matz