Why Blue Matters- MEGHAN MCKEE – ARTIST, RADIO HOST, AND ART CURATOR
Since I moved to Jersey City, I have had the pleasure of meeting many talented people. Artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and many others. The people in Jersey City know what their passions are and find any way they can to turn their passion into a living. Meghan McKee is no exception. She is an artist and radio host, born in Kansas City, now living in Jersey City curating shows and making big moves. It’s an honor to know her and it was a pleasure to interview her.
WBM: Who is Meghan McKee?MM: I guess if I was to describe myself, I would say that I am a woman who is constantly learning new things and has always got her fingers in many different bowls. I guess I am just a woman who loves life and all the different aspects to it!
WBM: Born and Raised?MM: I was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but we lived on the Kansas side. I, on the other hand, have more memories of growing up outside Allentown, PA and for the longer side, 20 miles north of Boston.
WBM: What brought you to Jersey City?MM: My husband and I moved to Jersey City pretty much right after we got married. We were living upstate New York, where my husband teaches and I was working in an art foundry. I realized that country life was not for me. My husband’s co-worker suggested Jersey City, since we were looking for places in the city. We originally were going to move to the Washington Heights area, but came to check out a place over here and saw all the brownstones. That did it.
WBM: When you were little, what did you dream of being when you grew up?MM: I remember I wanted to be a scientist. Don’t know why, but I guess that sometimes comes through in my work. But I guess I was always an artist. I remember hiding in my closet and doing big drawings. My parents had no clue until we moved that it existed.
WBM: What drew me to being a radio host?MM: I can honestly say I fell into this. I am music obsessed, that is for sure. I had done an online radio thing, but because the FCC made it illegal for online radio shows that can’t pay for the songs. So I did a blog…. and I had been volunteering with WFMU, so when an opportunity came along to help out with an established radio show looking for a engineer I had to jump on the opportunity. The station manager, Ken Freedman, trained me and asked- do you want your own radio show. I hadn’t originally thought that could be an option, but I said- YES! A year later, I got the show that I have been doing for 4 years now.
WBM: What is the best thing about being on the radio? The worst?MM: The best thing about being on the radio I would have to say is the community that I have with my show. I absolutely love my listeners. They keep me on my toes. I love that I can play something that no one knows, or play an old favorite that makes everyone really happy. The worst…I don’t know if there is one. Maybe it’s that my listeners are all over the globe, and I don’t get to see them. That might be the worst. But really, there isn’t a worst. Maybe having to wake up at 4 am to get ready for my show…
WBM: Has music always been a passion of yours? What are some of your favorite musicians?MM: Oh man, music has always been a passion. I remember in high school sitting in my room recording my radio. My brother who is ten years older than me shaped my musical tastes then as well. I became the go to person for all my friends and had some friends that helped make me dig deeper for sounds. It was always a search for new sounds. Still is. As for favorite musicians…that is hard. I can tell you different albums that influenced me at a moment. For example- Talking Heads- Born Under Punches was at a listening station in a Borders Book Store in Chicago, it was my birthday and my boyfriend (now husband) and I were waiting for a table. I blew my mind. I couldn’t stop listening. I guess there are a few bands that have done that for me recently. The Yellow Dogs and Peaking Lights for current bands, but I have been addicted to some amazing bands from Africa from the 70′s.
WBM: I know you also are very involved in the Jersey City arts scene…how long have you been interested in art?MM: I have been doing art my whole life. I had some amazing teachers in high school that pushed me to continue with art. I ended up going to School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with a little intermission at School of Visual Arts in NYC for my sophomore and junior years. Both schools really helped shape my art sense with conceptual and the reality of whether it works or not.
WBM: What motivated you to become so pro-active within the JC art community?MM: When we first moved down here, I was so happy there was an artist community here. I got a studio at 111 First Street, but sadly it was right at the end, before we all got kicked out and it was torn down. After that I was worried that the area was going to lose its great art scene. One thing I have noticed is that Jersey City evolves and has seen the art scene change and grow. Since moving up to the Heights, I have noticed that there are a lot of artists up here, but they don’t show downtown. Since I have shown downtown for years now, I want to try to bring out some of these artists that are hiding! I have been a part of the art scene and only want to make it grow and get better!
WBM: What is your favorite medium to work with?MM: My work is collage/assemblage. I am a junk collector. I love random bits of paper, interesting scraps….. Basically I am the person that says- OH! Yay! to a bit of trash on the ground. I love flea markets. Ephemera is an addiction.
WBM: Who are some of your favorite artists, or other people who inspire you?MM: In high school was was very influenced by Keith Haring, though my work is NOTHING like his. I loved his ideas and that simplicity can say so much. Currently I am influenced by Joseph Cornell…. have been for a while. I also love the work of Maurizio Cattelan and Tom Friedman. They have such an amazing sense of humor and it makes me remember that art doesn’t have to be so damn serious. If you have fun making it, you should have the same fun viewing it.
WBM: Where do you see yourself in five years?MM: Wow, the five year plan, eh? I can honestly say I have no clue. Ha! I know, that is not what one should say, but if you asked me 5 years ago if I could tell you where I’d be today, it was not here. Life changes fast, so I figure I should just ride the ride.
WBM: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in art or music?MM: I had a friend, when I was back in college, tell me he was thinking of changing his major to art. I told him don’t do it. Not because I don’t think people should be in this field, but because his heart wasn’t there. You have to be in love with what you do. You have to be able to handle the harder times, put your effort into it and know that there may not be major outcome right away, but it is part of the steps of getting there.
WBM: How can we find out more about projects you are working on, exhibits you are in, or shows you are curating?MM: As lame as this may sound, I am horrible at promoting other than Facebook. I need to get out there beyond, with my website. But yes, I am VERY vocal via Facebook. It’s such an easy one stop spot. But thankfully I am getting some attention from the Jersey City Independent for the shows that I am affiliated with.