Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Tim Kerr is an artist, musician, skateboarder and record producer living in Ausitn, Texas with his wife Beth. Tim's friend and fellow musician, Matt Patton, offers a guest write-up about Tim and his work for Yalo Studio.

My friendship with Tim Kerr goes back to the early aughts. My band The Dexateens were looking to make a record that sounded like The Quadrajets 'Pay The Deuce'. We figured the best way to accomplish that sound was to find the guys who made the record. We tracked down Tim who produced the record as well as engineer Lynn Bridges and headed out to a studio in West Point, Georgia. The thing is when we got there, Tim had no interest in recreating that record. Tim wanted us to focus on what was unique about our band. He helped us shape and embrace our own ideas. From that time forward we were equipped with a much larger canvas.

Tim approaches painting with the same abandon, refusing conventionality and the will to inspire others. I can't say that I've ever noticed a painting he's done on canvas, I have noticed the use of plywood, chalkboard slate, scrap wood, cardboard and old skateboards among other scavenged surfaces. The colors are vibrant. The lines snarl like feedback or horns, giving the subjects a frenzied animation. The medium is mixed, showing a preference for acrylics, house paint and graffiti pens over oil. 

It would be hard to describe Kerr's portraits without the use of musical terms. A good many of his subjects are musicians that have influenced his own music. I have seen John Lee Hooker, Ornette Coleman and T Model Ford included in his works. The latter came to stay with Tim and his wife Beth at their home in Austin, Texas some time ago. I can see why the two men identified with one another. T Model picked up a guitar sometime in his late 50's and instantly began to make his own music. This is much how painting began for Tim. After making enough music to fill a lifetime with the likes of Big Boys, Poison 13 and Monkeywrench, Tim decided that painting was something that he wanted to do and could do. So he began doing it.

The other large portion of Tim's work includes his portrayals of Civil Rights activists. You might see depictions of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. I own a painting he did of the three young men who lost their lives in Philadelphia, MS in the early days of the movement. Yet, you'll also find those whose stories are seldom heard. Take Claudette Coleman for instance. Young Ms. Coleman refused to give up her seat on a bus down in Montgomery, AL at least nine months before Mrs. Park's refusal to do the same. The difference being that Claudette was only 15 and pregnant at the time. She never became a face for the cause because of her circumstances at that time. 

I last worked with Tim last summer in Nashville on a record he was producing for a friend's band. There he stood, arms folded, always listening, always questioning, always waiting for that inspirational moment to unfold. There are not good and bad sounds. There is no wrong equipment. And, you are already good enough to create something. As encouraging as that sounds, Tim is a filter for negativity, unoriginality and general bullshit. He will sniff it out in a heartbeat, making sure what's left is honest. No worries. We are believers and the session is going well.

After my work was finished I stopped in at Jack White's Third Man complex downtown. In addition to the record store, venue and production space the organization has made some room for visual arts. They chose Tim Kerr as their first featured artist and this was opening day. As I stepped in to view the art I was amazed at how the colors popped while competing with the trademark blue background that is a constant in many Third Man promotional photographs. This room is seemingly meant to dominate, but the works refuse it.

Please join us along with Tim Kerr and Matt Patton on Friday night, April 11th from 6-9pm at Yalo Studio for the opening of TIM KERR: IN PROGRESS.

303 N. Main St. Water Valley, MS