Magnus Johnstone, known to many Bostonians from his tenure in town from the ‘70s through the ‘90s – as a trailblazing radio DJ (on WZBC 90.3 FM and WMBR 88.1 FM) as well as a visual artist – passed away on February 22, 2013, after a full life filled with art, music and community.
Upon his departure from this terrestrial sphere, he left behind over 100 large canvases, dozens of medium sized works and just as many smaller pieces. “Soaring Through The Matrix” is the first of what his friends and family hope will be many more local and national shows that will display his amazing work. This time around, most of the work on display will be his medium-sized, oil-on-stretched-canvas pieces [30” to 40” wide and 40” to 50” tall], with some selected smaller works [oil-on-carboard, approximately 12” by 14”].
All proceeds from the sales of these works will go to the Johnstone family, to help safely store, maintain and market his work.
August 11-19, 2018
Gallery Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 1:00 pm-5:00 pm
Saturday, August 11, 2018; 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
As part of the opening reception, friends will play records from Magnus’s collection. All attendees are encouraged to help with the playlist.
Nave Gallery (Teele Square), 155 Powder House Blvd, Somerville, MA
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Magnus Johnstone was born in 1952 in Chicago. By the 1970s his family had relocated to the East Coast, settling in Duxbury, MA.
He began painting in his 20s and was, at first, self-taught. He completed his first larger canvases (70” x 50”) by the mid-1970s, working in oil paint. Throughout his life worked with a variety of sizes and materials, and attended the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts for a year during his early career.
His fantastical and psychedelic artwork was influenced by sources as diverse as Renaissance art, German expressionism, surrealist painting, writers like H. P. Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison, and the graphic and comic art of the 1960’s. And music. Always music.
A lifelong music fanatic, his taste was as diverse and selective as it was in all of his creative domains. Indeed, his lifelong work as a DJ provided the evolving soundtrack to his unique artistic vision.
By the late 1970s, Magnus had become a college radio in Boston and was producing popular and forward-thinking African and Reggae shows on WMBR 88.1 FM in Cambridge (MIT’s station) – years before the term “world music” was coined. Over the years, his vinyl collection grew to over 10,000 LPs, 12” and 45s spanning genres as diverse as reggae and dub, opera, 80s hip-hop, electronica and downtempo, jungle, soul, funk, R&B and his seemingly endless supply of oddball and spoken word records that appeared often in his radio audio collages.
All throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Magnus’s two loves remained, and burned passionately and brightly – painting and music. In 1985, he started the first all-rap radio program called “Lecco’s Lemma,” at MIT’s WMBR 88.1 FM. A year later he moved the show to WZBC 90.3 FM, where it ran until 1988.
Musically, he will forever be known as the first person in Boston to truly give local hip-hop artists a chance to be heard regularly on the radio, playing their demos and even interviewing them in-studio. As The Noise magazine said in 1987: “Magnus Johnstone is a DJ at the front of a movement, in it for sheer love of its excitement and possibilities.”
MC Keithy E, later known as Guru of Gang Starr Posse and Gang Starr; the Almighty RSO; TDS Mob; Top Choice Clique; MC Spice; Rusty “The Toe Jammer” Pendleton; Edo G (then part of the FTI Crew); and countless others were given their first chance to be heard via Magnus and Lecco’s Lemma.
By the early ‘90s he was producing and hosting the “Dub Hop” show on WZBC, and after a brief hiatus – during which time he battled cancer with vigor and determination, beating leukemia in the mid-90s – Magnus returned to the airwaves in the late ‘90s on WZBC, with his “Mecca” show. Relocating to Maine in 2000 with his life partner Mango, he continued to paint and work in community radio on WERU, a community station based in Orland, ME, where he hosted weekly shows The Matrix and Da Vibes.
Magnus’s friends and family will always remember him as compassionate and creative soul, a visionary artist and a music fan who was ever search of his next musical muse.