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Reverend Steven Johnson Leyba is a ritualistic, shamanistic painter of Mescalero Apache ancestry. His art is equal parts satanic, holistic, radical, political, and extremely personal. Utilizing 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 of Art.

Just in time for Trump’s Presidential Inauguration, Rev. Steven Johnson Leyba of the Coyotel Church and Peter Kalisch drop their spoken word collaboration entitled FUCK YOUR FREEDOM. In our interview together, Leyba discusses the fascist state of America, The American Dream, the concept behind the video and how we as a collective may be able to finally incite a revolution among the people using the concept of #ARTWAR. Pay close fucking attention.


What is the basis behind #ARTWAR and the Coyotel church?

The Coyotel Church was started to create a vital active culture that is always being created and re-created by its members we call CREATORS. A living culture that is always changing and growing. One that is not something the mainstream contrived culture can dictate, exploit or control. A tribal culture of active creatives who believe creating is the highest form of human action. A church of art that is not enslaved by the Industrial Entertainment Complex, Google, art system or government. Indigenous cultures did this, they embraced new things and the culture was fluid. It was not stagnant or controlled by rulers and dogma.

#ARTWAR is a war on mainstream global corporate culture, blind technocracy, corporate science, religion, celebrity worship and the brainwashing of its creative people by the left-wing university and art system that says “everything is art” and “everyone’s an artist,” which is not true. Just like when people start spewing slogans like “I’m free.” No, you are not. You are controlled. Coyotel Church says, “not everybody is an artist but everybody should create.” Art schools are indoctrination centers to destroy the creative urge and instinct, to control, domesticate and castrate it. TRUE creative instincts cannot be controlled. Truly creative people are a threat to the global markets. You see it in the corporate dogma, where actual innovation and creativity is discouraged because of profit margins. Creativity demands taking chances, and taking chances means that it may not make money right away. You know, the slogan “get a real job.” The creative mind set is a threat not only to corporate profits, but to all modern fascist control grids.

The left-wing fascists took over the universities and art schools in the late 60’s, when radical culture was authentic and dangerous, before it became the establishment. America has a way of assimilating dissent after it is dead. Then, it can be used to sanction false rebellion, an ancient tactic in the Art of War to create your enemy and false flags. Now, they are brainwashing creatives to either be left-wing or be rebellious and right-wing. Both are socially engineered by corporate culture to fit prescribed markets. The art school mentality is a rule abiding rebel faction of the corporate mindset. It is all designed to be controlled and exploited by transnational corporations. There is an unspoken rule among those in the art system, a left-wing pacifist dogma: That one cannot criticize another’s art or say what is and isn’t art. A leftover of the politically correct era of the 1990’s. Where no one is supposed to say someone else’s art is not art or not good. It is not politically correct, therefore it’s a violation of the rules. This violation is not unlike being called insensitive towards other people at best, or worse- being called a sexist or racist.

#ARTWAR is a direct attack on that brainwashing. #ARTWAR seeks to call the liars and pretenders to the mat. To force them to address the fact that they have no control whatsoever over any TRUE CREATOR. We are sick of the bullshit. We are sick of their false promises of fame and fortune that would supposedly be the outcome if we were to follow their out dated rules.

What inspired you to write FUCK YOUR FREEDOM?

Americans insecurities about what actual freedom is and the question of even having any freedom, especially since 9/11. America, being the self-described poster child of freedom, used the tragedy of 9/11 as justification for destroying any actual freedom, either domestic or abroad and for squashing dissenters and civil liberties while giving more civil rights to corporations. Especially those companies in the arms business.

Many Americans adopted the slogan, “they hate us for our freedom.” Then, critical thinking, debate and the spirit of the founding fathers was all but forgotten by anyone who could still present any kind of argument against the lunacy. However, till this day people in America still banter on about “freedom” and within their insecurity is the truth. They don’t know what actual freedom is, or whatever the fuck it is they certainly don’t have it. They convince themselves in the public sphere of dead ideas that they themselves are at least still a symbol of freedom. It’s not true. They are not even a placeholder of freedom. I grew sick of idiots saying “I’m free, I’m free,” so I thought, FUCK YOU! FUCK YOUR FREEDOM!

How does it apply to this election?

The rhetoric around this election is a script known all too well around the world. Before 9/11, that wasn’t the case but now it is. With world trade laws, we have witnessed the legal end of actual countries and the birth of an age comprised of corporate global fascist rule, as well as confiscation of land and natural resources. This election and its mascot President is showing the world a great denial that many Americans have on both the left and the right. Trump is a corporate man, a corporate slave. He is an insider, not an everyman. He is a simplistic cartoon that fits the mold of both inappropriate leader, and hero to the underdog. He is supposed to be this American success story but the reality is that he is something to despise on all levels. He is the all-around loser who has lots of money and seems to do what he wants. The reality is that he is a slave to his self-worship, his vices and his corporate masters. He is the village idiot crowned king. But that crown might as well be a paper crown from Burger King. It means nothing. In Roman times, you would call it “bread and circus.” The election is a farce, a corporate selection. I call it boring and contrived. This is something we will see more of as corporations gain complete control of every aspect of our lives. In a world where the word “freedom” is more important than actual freedom, declaring “FUCK YOUR FREEDOM!” is the first step in identifying the shadow cast on the cave of global stupidity.

How does your work reflect the concept of “art war”?

It is a living being. In North American Indian cultures, it is believed that objects created for rituals are living beings. In Western art history, it began when the Renaissance artists created art that defied the church and state. In today’s world, the star system controls what is important to markets. What that means, is that most artists are illustrating works for either existing or perceived markets. Artists are pre-selling out of speculation. What is perceived as “individual expression” is not. In that way, my art is an affront to this control of art and how it is seen, perceived and believed. I say the personal is the most political. My art is the most personal art being made. That makes it an actual act of war. My vision, my body, my sexuality, my bodily fluids and DNA being used to create these living ritual objects is a DECLARATION OF ART WAR!

Can you explain the concept of “stillborn art”?

It’s simple art that has no life. It is created, but does not move us. It’s disingenuous. People may say, “oh look what Jimmy made isn’t great?” It might have some skills or not, but people congratulate those that make stillborn art because they don’t want to discourage the person making it. However, they know in their heart of hearts that not only is it not good, but the person who made it didn’t really mean it when they made it. It is also art that may be masterful in its technique, but soulless and pleasy. Much of the “ARTWORLD’S” official art falls into the category of stillborn art. It doesn’t move us in the slightest till millions of dollars are thrown at it. Then, the media goes on and on about its greatness.

Propaganda on the low end, is shitty art with unicorns, rainbows and kittens. It is the cold, lifeless artifacts that can’t stand up on its own in any gallery or museum without some art Pravda Official over explaining it and justifying it in false historical context and “art speak.” Stillborn art is dead creations for safe markets and mindsets.

How do you suppose a revolution among the people will finally transpire?

In today’s global world, a TRUE REVOLUTION is R EVOLUTION. Which means that, to simply react and protest the global corporate fascists is not enough. If you are a blasphemer you are a believer. The system is designed to assimilate protest and dissent. What it can’t absorb are rogue creators, cabals of people creating from the heart, on their own, without the need of the matrix patting them on the back for it. Creating from the heart and from the human spirit. Basically, each person creating on their own and for themselves. OUR EVOLUTION IS THE REVOLUTION. When people trust their instincts and their heart you will see all the matrixes’ control grids start to glitch. The moment you question part of the world with what you make is the moment when that part of the world is put in jeopardy, challenged and threatened.

What has been your experience this last year, in regards to political propaganda and the various movements on the up rise?

I have lived long enough to see the rehash and regurgitation. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. The only difference is that it’s half ass. Nothing in the media, politics, or Hollywood this past year has had any integrity or believability. None of it is a story big enough for me to believe in. What you see is corporate culture dictating control through various forms of fascism. You have trigger warnings on the left and many young people wanting speech laws because they believe the first amendment is archaic and hurtful. On the right, you see women’s rights and civil liberties under attack on all levels. The movements on the up rise are all mob rules. No one has any passion, belief or vision anymore. This makes it a new kind of dangerous. One that is unique in human history. Burroughs said, “There will be no more Hitlers, no more Stalins.” Which means that the leaders in the world we see are not real leaders, they are celebrities. They are not autonomous, they are automatons: political actors playing a script. So many are in denial of the fact that we have no actual leaders and no actual villains except for the system itself. The answer is to create viable alternatives that do not seek or need validation from controlled world corporate state. It’s a step down with each year and with each election. Dumbed down more and more year after year.

What are some dreams you believe you’ve been robbed of? Do you think there ever was a chance at the “American Dream” (whatever that means)

The biggest dream I have been robbed of is the dream to just be. All levels of every second of every day for all of us is scripted. When I started my art career 30 years ago, there were so many wonderful examples of creative people living creative lives that they made. Not the ones made by markets, celebrities, politicians and fashion.

The American Dream had some validity to it because you could live cheap, do your art, and not be a slave to a day job or to fame and fortune. You got left alone.
In the Reagan era, we saw some amazing art coming from creatives declaring their political stance, lifestyle and sexual orientation through action and art created. Nowadays, simply saying you’re something has taken the place of actually doing something.

If I ever believed in the so called “American Dream,” it would’ve been that I could create whatever the fuck I wanted, whenever the fuck I wanted and live off my art without having to be a slave to any markets. I may be one of the last ones who got a taste of what once was, but has died and went away.

There was a chance at the American Dream, but this is an age where America is no longer a country, it’s a business. A dream is what you have, not what you are given. The victim class and the opulent share the same corrupt ideals. They have a sense of entitlement.
If there is any possibility for the American Dream it will not be given to you. YOU WILL HAVE TO TAKE IT!

What is your own personal idea of the American Dream?

Free time. Time to think and create. Time away from the internet and silly celebrities and politicians. Like I said, the ability for me and other creative people to create whatever they want, when they want. Not having to get the day job that robs the soul. More people with more time to think, question authority and make shit they actually believe in. I’ve seen many amazing things created and lived within North America. Science that was free, so much innovation and creativity. Now, the world corporate state has waged war against creation and passion. For me today, now as I write this, the LAST AMERICAN DREAM IS TO WAGE A CREATIVE WAR AGAINST OUR CORPORATE MASTERS. TO CREATE IN SPITE OF AND OUT OF SPITE AND LOVE AND JUSTICE. TO CREATE ENDLESSLY WITHOUT SEEKING VALIDATION IN A WORLD THAT SEEKS ONLY TO CONSUME AND DISCARD. TO LIVE IN DEFIANCE BY CREATING EVERY DAY AND NOT NEEDING PERMISSION. THE AMERICAN DREAM SHOULD BE THE DREAM OF EVERY LIVING BEING. LIVING FREE AND UNCONTROLLED.

You have a new book coming out soon, what is the concept behind it, and when can we GET IT?

ART WAR MAGIC MANUAL, it is a how to book of art, magic, and practical and metaphysical application. A manual to create vital art that is an act of war against anything and anyone that stands in the way of what you create.

We will be releasing a limited-edition version in the late spring/ summer, and full publication by fall. Like ART WAR MAGIC MANUAL on Facebook and info will be up in the months to come on my website www.stevenleyba.com




Tristene Roman. Read about her latest zine “The Golden Fool.”


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