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Renée LoBue: A Magnetic Presence in Music, Visual Art, and Performance

Interview with Renée LoBue

1. Please tell us something about your background and your art journey so far.

My journey began with a deep love for music, theatre, and visual art, cultivated from a young age. As a self-taught artist, I thrive on intuitive improvisation across all mediums, creating fantasy sounds and visuals. I’ve navigated through various artistic realms, from creating a mountain of visual works, writing, and performing with my bands, Elk City and Flowers of America (FOA), and, most recently, founding the Magic Door independent record label. All of this has allowed me to blend genres and push creative boundaries, while additional collaborations with artists like Brother JT and Beth Chucker have enriched my practice.

2. Describe what a normal day looks like as an artist.

A typical day involves balancing multiple projects—writing music, recording, visual art creation, photography, and running our record label. Mornings are often focused on organization and management. Afternoons shift to visual art and/or music, where I look forward to losing myself in the work. Evenings are reserved for reflection. And reading. Lots of reading. There’s an allowing of ideas to flow in the evenings and, hopefully, a preparation for the next day’s creative endeavors.

3. Can you tell us more about the theme in your art and your inspiration?

My art explores themes of empowerment, social commentary, and the human experience. Inspiration comes from daily life, personal experiences, and a desire to challenge societal norms. My recent series, NUDE = Notions Unseen, Dreamlike Enigmas, a small selection of my self-portraits, delves into the essence of the human form, blending provocative and disturbing elements to provoke thought and encourage deeper appreciation of vulnerability and imagination. This series asks questions about erasure, digital misinformation, and illuminated lies within a feminist framework.

4. How does your art life impact other parts of your life?

Art is inseparable from my daily existence, influencing how I perceive and interact with the world. It fosters a sense of curiosity and openness, enriching my relationships and providing a therapeutic outlet. This integration of art into life creates a holistic approach, where creativity enhances every experience. Plus, it makes each day more fun!

5. Could you share any difficulties and hardships you had to face in life and how or if you managed/overcame them?

Navigating the art world as an independent artist comes with its challenges, including financial instability and access to resources. However, perseverance, support from my community, and the ability to adapt have been key. Each hardship has been a lesson, shaping my resilience and commitment to my craft.

6. Tell us about your best experience in the art world so far.

One of my most rewarding experiences was the release of Elk City’s 2023 album “Undertow.” The outpouring of love it received, particularly from Toronto’s Spill Magazine calling it one of the best LPs of the year, validated years of hard work and artistic exploration. Collaborating with my talented bandmates and seeing our collective vision come to life was profoundly fulfilling. Also, creating an original work of art out of fragments of Keith Haring’s mural that once graced the Houston-Bowery wall in NYC in the early 1980s. That was surreal.

7. Share your worst experience in the art world.

Facing rejection and criticism can be tough. That said, my need to create has always been stronger than anyone’s opinion of my work. A short while ago, a project I poured my heart into was dismissed by a gallery I was sure would show my work. It was a humbling experience that taught me the importance of resilience and staying true to my vision despite external opinions. It also solidified my belief in the importance of pivoting. Keep moving and, while you’re at it: Consider changing up the plan entirely.

8. What practical advice can you give to fellow artists?

Stay authentic to your vision and embrace improvisation. Don’t be afraid to take risks and explore interdisciplinary collaborations. Build a supportive network and remain adaptable in the face of challenges. Most importantly, let your passion drive your practice.

9. Is the artist life lonely? Please share your thoughts and experiences.

The artist’s life can be solitary, as much of the creative process requires introspection and solitude. However, collaboration and community involvement mitigate this loneliness. I’m lucky in that, Elk City (the band I’m in) is as collaborative as collaborations get, so I get to shift between solitary work and co-creating with 4 gifted people. Engaging with other artists and audiences creates a sense of belonging and shared purpose. But mostly … Yes.

10. What are you working on at the moment and are there any upcoming events you would like to talk about?

I’m creating new art. Elk City is preparing to write and record new music. We’re releasing our last two LPs on vinyl soon. I’m excited to say I have a few international exhibitions in the works. Stay tuned!


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