The Queen of Detroit

Michigan-based artist and atypical punk, Niagara, crafted her own brand of Pop Art in the early 90s. Narratives of classic buxom beauties wielding pistols and bossing around gangsters, Niagara’s early paintings of unequivocally tenacious women – some earning her upwards of $15,000 – propelled her to international fame.

It took a while, however, for Niagara to achieve this fame. After dropping out of University of Michigan’s art school in 1973, she found herself trudging to college parties with artist Mike Kelley playing impromptu noise-rock shows in the band Destroy All Monsters. Equal parts punk rock show, art performance, and experimental noise excursion, their first gigs were played using hot-wired toys, defective electronics, saxophones, and tape loops. By the late 70s, the artsy-punk band included Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton and MC5 bassist Michael Davis. As the lead singer, Niagara embodied the edgy femme fatale she would later depict in her paintings.

Created in 2002, these handbag art pieces, entitled “In Case of Emergency”, “Hot Box”, and “Havoc”, utilize techniques and themes she’s experienced in her early music and art. Materials such as bullets and a syringe evoke the same ingenuity and punk excess that raised Destroy All Monsters to anti-rock cult status. One can only imagine a pistol encased in these glaring metal purses. And yet, each bag glimmers with the sheen of Pop.

– Paul DesMarais, Contributing Writer

Lot Information:

“In Case of Emergency”, “Hot Box” and “Havoc”
Circa 2002
From the Punk series No. 13, 12 and 10
Each signed
$1,000-1,500 for the group of three
To be offered in the June 26, 2011 Modern Art & Design Auction 

Callwood, Brett. “She Comes in Colors.” Detroit Metro Times, 9 Dec. 2009. Web. 10 May 2011.

Hill, Christina. “Falling for Niagara.” Detroit Metro Times, 23 Nov. 2005. Web. 10 May 2011.

Niagara Bio. Niagara, 2011. Web. 10 May 2011.

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