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June is Membership Month at the Niagara Artists Centre, which means it’s the perfect time to launch our new Member of the Moment feature. We asked NAC members about art in Niagara and the number one reason to join the NAC. In his interview, musician, songwriter and music producer Joe Lapinski tells us about what motivated him to become a NAC member, a few Niagara artists who knock his socks off, and why Niagara is a good place for artists to take some “pretty cool risks.” You can sign up for your very own NAC membership online or stop by NAC at 354 St. Paul Street in St. Catharines during gallery hours to get your membership in person. Sign up in June, and your name will be entered in a draw for a Special STRUTT Wearable Art Weekend package that includes a pair of Curator’s Row tickets (front row seats) to the Saturday night runway show.

Joe Lapinski is an interdisciplinary artist who has been performing, writing, and producing music in St. Catharines for the past 13 years. He performs actively as a solo artist, as well as a member of The Woodshed Orchestra, Whitney Pea, The Regards, and Bronx Cheerleader. He is the founder and chief of Yummy Recordings, and is a co-founder of the In the Soil Arts Festival, all based in St. Catharines. You can read more about Joe and his work at

When did you become a NAC member and why?
I became a member back in the Fall of 1999, when it was located on Bond Street.  I joined so my band Palooka had a place to put on shows.  LOTS of shows were put on.

Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?
I’m definitely both.  As an artist, I’m a songwriter and music producer.  As a fan, much of the art that I enjoy helps to inspire new songs and approaches to composing and arranging music.  It’s a symbiotic relationship, without which I am nothing.

What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?
It’s growing and strengthening at a nice pace these days.  Lots of artists are starting their own communities, and helping each other out.  It’s great to see and be a part of.  I also find there are no rules to art being created here, so a few of those artists are taking some pretty cool risks, and thinking outside the regional box.

Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.
Ted Zeigler always blows my socks off.  Steve Remus too, when he has the time to put ink to paper.  I’m a huge Melanie MacDonald fan too (I used one of her paintings for an album cover, Sundries).  An up-and-comer I’m really into is Brittany Brooks.  Keep an eye on her, I tell ya!

Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.
Well, I used to work at NAC years ago, so every one of those days were memorable NAC experiences…. I’ve performed at many NAC events, so many of those nights were highlights for me.  One being opening up for The Dinner Is Ruined back in 2001 (I think). Also, performing the music for STRUTT three years ago with The Woodshed Orchestra.  Those were some great times of which I’m proud to be part of.

What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?
You may get to play Ping Pong with NAC director Steve Remus.

Check back for more Member of the Moment interviews throughout June.