It’s been a decade since punk rocker-turned-fine artist Niagara held a solo show in Detroit, and the last time she exhibited work locally was when she was The Dirty Show’s featured artist in 2020. Then the pandemic hit, and Niagara came down with COVID-19 well before most even knew about the illness. “I felt terrible for six months, and I couldn’t do anything. I was like, ‘What is going on?’” she tells Metro Times. “I didn’t know it was a flu, I just thought it was how my life was.”
However, the prolific painter — whose work often depicts various femmes fatales in a pop-art style that is both meticulously glamorous and a bit off-kilter — says she was thankful for the rare downtime, which gave her a renewed sense of inspiration and urgency. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to paint this in case this COVID kills me. I gotta paint this before I die,’” she says of an image featured in Stop, an exhibition of new and never-before-seen paintings and prints that opens Saturday at Royal Oak’s Edo Gallery.
The title of the show comes from a new portrait depicting Diana Ross of the Supremes; Niagara, who performed as the frontwoman for the band Destroy All Monsters in the 1970s and ’80s, says she also found a new appreciation for the hitmakers while revisiting Motown compilations.
“I hated hearing it again. It was bringing me down. It’s mostly about whining and stuff about girls,” she says. “I couldn't handle it until I got the Supremes compilation. Every song was just so good, I hadn’t heard them for so long ... It was such a shock that they were so upbeat, even when they were whining, they were whining about love in an upbeat way.”
Niagara will be on hand for the opening reception to sign prints, including a new collaboration with Shepard Fairey, and Danny Kroha (of the Gories) and DJ Alr!ght will also be on the decks spinning rock ’n’ roll. “It’s different than being in a band, where you practice every day, and then you go to work, and you get on stage, and try to be an idiot, a marvelous idiot, for an hour,” she says of her art shows. “With art, you’ve done all your work, and all you have to do is go to the show, and meet people, and have a party.”
The opening reception will be held from 7-11 p.m. on Saturday, July 9 at Edo Gallery, 4313 W. 13 Mile Rd., Royal Oak; edoramenhouse.com; 248-556-5775. Reservations encouraged.