“As a kid, I thought women artists, who made it, were serious and wore no makeup.”
I have to admit, growing up, I didn’t think “women artists, who made it” wore makeup either, but when I first discovered Niagara Detroit, all my ideas of what a women artist should and shouldn’t be went out the window.
Hailed as “The Queen of Detroit Pop Art,” Niagara Detroit is drop dead gorgeous. Her name alone is cool. She walks with a feminist swagger and also happens to be Punk Rock royalty. This lady can rock eyeliner and vocals like it’s nobody’s business—and her art—breathtaking!
Get familiar with the iconic Niagara Detroit in today’s brief but image heavy Art HERstory post, after the jump!
Niagara Detroit was born August 23, 1956. In 1973, while attending the University of Michigan, Niagara formed the punk band, Destroy All Monsters. She was the lead vocalist while they were active until 1985, earning big attention due to the presence of former members of The Stooges and the MC5. Niagara soon after fronted the super-group Dark Carnival (also with Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton). Niagara still does occasional rock performances in Australia and Tokyo.
Niagara utilized her art school experience in creating album and promotional art for Destroy All Monsters’ /Dark Carnival performances. Combining an illustrator’s hand with some collage and pop iconography, Niagara’s style began to take shape during these years, and by the early 90’s she was beginning to show in small exhibits and cafes around the Detroit area.
Niagara teamed up with the Detroit gallery for her first exhibits “All Men Are Cremated Equal” (1996) and “Faster Niagara, Kill…Kill” (1997). They were breakout shows that gained her much praise. Soon art mags like Juxtapoz were calling her “The Queen Of Detroit” and many successful exhibits would follow in other cities like Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Tokyo to name but a few. “The Niagara Girl,” who appears in many female guises, would come to represent feminist swagger with drop dead gorgeous looks and an equally dangerous demeanor. Hard-boiled, tough talking gals who would rather dispatch a man than put up with any of his shit. Her bold and colorful post-pulp comic strip style of femme fatales in various depictions was culturally solidified by Callie Khoury’s Thelma and Louise, which shares a kindred spirit with Niagara’s subjects, along with the bad side of 40’s and 50’s film icons such as Bette Davis, and Lauren Bacall.
In 2002, Niagara’s work began to stray away from the gun-toting, booze swilling Femme fatale to a more intricate “Opium Series”. Still decidedly feminine, but the violence was turned inward, as world-weary, flapper-esque beauties are depicted in druggie repose amidst swirling opium fumes, full of Chinese patterns and applique make the series her most detailed and introspective work to date.
In 2006, a career retrospective of her art and music was chronicled in her coffee table book “Beyond The Pale” on 9mm Books.
On the tail of her sold out Japanese tour and her Hysteric Glamour release – the Detroit city pop art Queen returns to Australia for more impressive art touring at the Outré Gallery. Niagara “From Detroit with Love” is showing in Melbourne from Saturday, February 16th until March 11th, 2008.
If you’ve already fallen for Ms. Niagara and want even more of her, drop by PussycatMagazine.com to read their interview with the queen of Detroit. Also, check out Niagara’s amazing website. It’s jam-packed with visuals and information and I promise you’ll leave the site feeling empowered (I’ve bookmarked the site for future inspiration!)—NiagaraDetroit.com!
NOTE: All of the images posted are prints available for sale via the Outré Gallery website.
- Niagara Detroit x Vans
- “Line of Style” Fashion Illustration Exhibit at Gallery Nucleus
- Kweenz Destroy Slays Spring 2012 With Koncrete Jungle
- VEXING: FEMALE VOICES FROM EAST L.A. PUNK
- Lost & Found: A Dance Performance Styled by Andrea Crews