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Rob Elba Calls Greg McLaughlin's Work "Something Special"

It's a night to relish in local music folklore at the Youth Nations Project for the Arts this Saturday. This upstart Fort Lauderdale gallery has local musical legend Gregory McLaughlin unveiling his artwork for the very first time. McLaughlin is known as the lead vocalist for heralded '80s punk/new wave outfit the Front, but the public hasn't witnessed what McLaughlin has been up to the past few years. This weekend, that's all going to change as his works on canvas will be on display for all to see. Turns out, this talented, self-taught artist may have stepped away from the sonic spotlight but his creativity was never impeded.

McLaughlin has been painting since 1998, and describes taking a punk approach to his art. His bio notes that he likes to create things "out of thin air." McLaughlin's art has an art brut appeal, with ironic undercurrents. On display at the opening will be his series of "Alien Jesus" works, paintings which are sure to raise a lot of eyebrows. Imagine the "Last Supper," and "The Raising of Lazarus," where J.C. is substituted with green otherworldly individuals who have bulbous eyes and large foreheads

County Grind spoke to event host, Rob Elba, of Holy Terrors fame -- yet another local icon. Elba tells us McLaughlin was a "hero," to him back in the early '80s and played a "big influence" on him as far as songwriting and entertaining goes.

Elba says he ran into McLaughlin a couple of years ago after 25 years. "He was kind of a recluse at that point," Elba notes about their reunion. But he found McLaughlin's apartment filled with amazing paintings and quickly became a fan.

Elba couldn't be more excited about this first public showing of McLaughlin's work. He's organized this special night and packed it with art and music. Performing will be the always eccentric Xela Zaid and another classic act, Charlie Pickett.

As an added bonus, there will also be a screening of McLaughlin's guerrilla documentary on the late '70s and early '80s South Florida punk scene, titled Invisible Bands.

For local music fans, there are tons of memories to relish during this evening."This event is really a labor of love for me, being a long time fan of Greg's, and I also really believe his art is something special," admits Elba. "I just wanted to help get it out there and seen."

Art on the Edge presents: First Strike, The Art of Gregory McLaughlin takes place this Saturday, from 7 until 11 p.m, located at 19 NW 7th Ave. of the Arts, Fort Lauderdale, The sugar on top? The event is free. Visit Facebook.

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