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Marc David Leviton doesn't make art for decoration, but to make people feel and think. Leviton says that's why he continues to curate shows like God and Me and Contradiction, at Steve Murray's Holy Joe Studio, 1124 N. Stone Ave., with 53 artworks by 28 artists. Leviton says the show, extended through Nov. 28, wraps around the themes of God, the modern human experience and the unwanted. For more information, call 624-7099.

What other shows have you done at Murray's gallery?

The Body and the Sexual Political Machine was one. You see, Steve Murray is the only person who will open up gallery space to allow me to put up scholarly exhibitions. And he takes some risk, because there's always a lot of sexual stuff in the shows, as you see, because that's part of what we are as humans.

Do you think other galleries in town have a problem with that?

Well ... it's a provincial town for the most part, and most things are decorative and regional. ... I'm looking for more weight. I'm looking for a bigger human experience. I want to see people sharing themselves, not just things to be adorned on a wall.

How do you get the work together for this show?

I was putting on solo shows of my own work, which is pretty prolific. I started to say to myself, "How many solo shows do I really need?" It's not important to me. What is more important is: Who else is working in town like me? I can't be the only one. ... These people have no representation; (galleries) won't go after them. They won't educate their clients. They are just interested in decoration.

Why this theme for the current show?

It's a reaction to the fanaticism of religious people who want to make this country a theocracy. To me, belief systems are yours, and if you push them on other people, we get into theocracy, and we end up having fascism. There are people who don't understand it; they just think they're right, and "right" means a lot of people die.

Can you tell me what kind of art you're looking for?

In God and Me and Contradiction, I never (knew) what people (were) going to send in. The show develops as it goes. I left out elements that I thought were too much on both sides. I had people who were all about praising God, and that is an extreme, and I had stuff on the other end that was stuff about hating God. I eliminated those two things, because they are the same. I wanted the human condition, emoting ... people putting themselves out there.

What do you hope people leave with when they see the show?

I want people to emote first. I want people to get lost in the show and their emotional responses before their logical brain takes over. So I'm going after your animal instincts, your feelings before your brain can override them, and I want people to always remember the show. This is an experience. You're going to remember the work, and it's going to stay with you for a very long time. That's art. That's real art. That's meaningful art.

What could be next?

There are several different subjects. I keep waiting for titles; one I'm throwing around now is The Monsters That Made Us, which would be interesting to see (regarding) who talks about their parents, or a situation they went through. ... You know, it's honest. For me, so many people are disingenuous, and everything is always nice, but everybody has got their problems. Nobody is alone in their suffering, but nobody is talking about it, so how can we heal each other? How can we come together?

Besides healing, how does art have a place in politics?

I'm completely liberal-minded; I don't care what anybody is. I'm looking to define humanity and bridge a dialogue between us. A friend of mine said people in this country are like living on two different planets, and we have to talk to each other. For me, we are in a civil cold war. Art has a role in all of that. The thing that gets me about any of the things we are dealing with right now—we have wars waging (and) a lot of innocent people are getting killed—(is that) other artists are painting flowers. How frickin' removed can you possibly get? ... Where's your empathy for people that you just want to disappear and make something pretty? If that's what you're doing, then you're culpable.

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