KRAMPUS! Is coming! To town!
  • Sylvia Mann
  • KRAMPUS! Is coming! To town!

Everywhere you go in December, there are Christmas decorations, pop-up shops, and gift guides, but walk into the Pony Club Gallery and you're greeted by walls decked with evil. This is what a Krampus-themed art show looks like: a life-size faux fireplace shaped like the holiday demon's face (made of cardboard and papier-mΓ’chΓ© by artist Martin Ontiveros) as fangs, horns, and tongues peek out from petite paintings on the walls.

The evil pagan figure is trending this winter, with a thriller released earlier this month, starring... Adam Scott? I only recently learned about the anti-Santa, who is known for punishing and kidnapping misbehaving children in December, but artist and show curator Holly Cappello has known about him since childhood. "My upstairs neighbors growing up were from the Czech Republic, and they would tell stories about Krampus," she says. "That was my first encounter with the folklore." For those still unfamiliar, he is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology and has roots in an Austro-Bavarian pagan festival.

Looking around the show, Krampus' best feature is his face: Most of the nearly 30 artists in the show chose to paint close-ups of the beast. In Pony Club member Mark Rogers' lovely painting, the demon sports a gray beard in soft chiaroscuro, and eyes that look weary yet threatening. A lot of the pieces wouldn't look out of place hanging in a tattoo parlor, including one from local tattoo artist Todd Janeczek, "Krampus Is with Us," which features a depiction of the beast with chained arms and his characteristic bundle of twigs, licking a child's head.