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Anything You Can Do, We Can Do Better

In its final week, Analogue Gallery's Women in Rock exhibition digs into women's influence in the music industry.

“I want to be around a really long time. I want to be a thorn in the side of everything as long as possible.” – Patti Smith

Lucia Graca and Women in Rock. Photo by Samira Mohyeddin.

When curator and owner of Queen Street West’s Analogue Gallery, Lucia Graca, decided that it was time for her to showcase the lives of groundbreaking and innovative female musicians, she never imagined it would prove so difficult.

“I always was going to do a women-in-rock show, but it took a very long time to fill a complete archive and to span the genres and eras that I wanted. It goes to show how women are really the minority in the music industry,” Graca says.

Despite the difficulties, Graca has managed to curate a beautiful exhibition of some of the most iconoclastic women in rock history. Musicians include, but are not limited to, Madonna, Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks, Diana Ross, Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, and Patti Smith.

The exhibition features 55 rare photos, plus some of Graca’s own photos. Her favourite is a black-and-white triptych of a young Debbie Harry, which was shot by the Canadian female photographer Edie Steiner. Other highlights include a luminous black-and-white photo of Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, which was shot by Robert Altman in 1971, and genre-crossing snaps by the R&B artist Lauryn Hill and the trio Salt ‘N’ Pepa.

The photographs in Women in Rock range in price from $200 to $2500, and although this may be out of some people’s range, one can still enjoy the moments captured in the lives of these talented trailblazers.

Musical and cultural icon Patti Smith figures prominently in Women in Rock. From her days tromping through New York’s art underground with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (which Smith chronicles in her award-winning memoir, Just Kids) right into the 2000s, it’s clear that the trailblazer frequently dubbed “the godmother of punk” is a key figure in the universe Graca seeks to draw attention to. And indeed, Graca admits that Smith and Harry embody the inspiration behind the exhibition.

“These photos not only showcase and celebrate these amazing women, but also speak to their longevity and lasting influence,” Graca says.

Graca stresses the importance of wanting to highlight that influence these women have had on the music industry, but insists she’s not making any sort of political statement.

“I hope people don’t take it too seriously. It is meant to be a fun and playful dive into the history of these women,” Graca says.

Women in Rock runs until June 14th at Analogue Gallery.