Wednesday, September 29, 2010

24 Sept 10 - Subdermal

Hey, blogspot readers, it's a well-deserved break away from bands for SouthSide. Tonight's she's viewing what's radical yet modern happening within the underground art community at Gallery 54B. Located in the Pilsen neighborhood, this showing was cleverly titled Subdermal which featured realistic and textured artwork by Melissa Hawrysz and Steven Johnson Leyba. This reviewer was curious why this unusual showing was called "subdermal" and Melissa responded saying "...because their art gets under people's skin ...exposing what's inside outward..."

Literally, blogspot readers, these artists' art will definitely get under your skin ...might even make it crawl a little too. Yet, that's the realistic approach of what this art showing wanted you to experience. Melissa's approach to her Subdermal pieces bordered on the female complexity as well as eclectic which featured real life texture and ordinary objects. For example, in one piece titled Hairy Pussy, Melissa used cuttings of her own hair for symbolic image of a hairy vagina trapped inside was a mouse trap and broken glass. Another piece, titled Itchy, had more clippings of her hair indeed had SouthSide feeling a bit itchy standing around it. There were otehr realistic textured pieces that had "used" condoms (Dirty Vagina and Dirty Condoms) as well as pins and band-aids ...some were splattered with human feces too. SouthSide at times found herself drawn to touch and experience what inspired Melissa to create such complext art.

Meanwhile, Steven took a difference approach to his artwork of his Subdermal showing. Compared to Melissa's art, his pieces represented the pain of what we experience underneath the skin. His technique had some texture and complexity like his counterpart however he featured intricate beading work (which accenting many of his portraits' designs), paint splatter and one special artistic ingredient - penis blood (his own). When asked about the beading, Steven referred to it as his Bhuddist meditation while creating his portraits. Today's modern art, according to him, " missing the realistic side..." SouthSide was intrigued by the deep emotions behind the haunting dark eyes of his Christine and Staci III portraits. She also liked his Gigi Lunar Alchemical (portrait) because it featured two quarters as nipples (not originally planned) as well as the elaborate bead work. Plus she loved touching his book full of painted/beaded pages in which each tells a piece of the entire story. Guests were encouraged to thumb through it during the showing.

During the course of the Subdermal art show, SouthSide chatted briefly with Brian Evan (Gallery 54B's owner) and Zore (curator). As probably the only underground art gallery in Chicago for over two years, they hold year round showings every 2nd and last Friday of the month which they focus on individual artists. Though booked with select artist showings, they said renting Gallery 54B is available (at a reasonable price) for any underground artist who wishes to host a showing there. For more information, visit The 54 B Gallery on Facebook.

Visit Melissa at

Visit Steven at

Until next time, support your local scene,

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