If self-expression has no boundaries, why do people keep putting labels on it?
For those of you with scorecards, Tim Kerr’s first art award was winning a fire prevention poster contest in elementary school. Like any self-respecting artistic outcast in Texas, he moved to Austin after high school graduation where he has lived ever since with his wife Beth. He earned a degree in painting and photography at the University of Texas in Austin and studied the latter with Garry Winogrand. Tim was awarded a Ford Foundation Grant while at UT. He won a slot two years in a row for the new songwriters contest at the Kerrville Folk Festival during this time as well.
After college graduation, Tim became involved musically and artistically with the early stages of the DIY (Do It Yourself) punk/hardcore/self expression movement. The idea that anyone could and should participate in self-expression burst every door and window inside of him wide open. He was a key member in bands that have made recordings for such labels as Touch & Go, Estrus, Sympathy For The Record Industry, In The Red, Sub Pop, and Kill Rock Stars. Tim also produced and recorded bands for all the labels above and more, both in the US and overseas. Journalists and critics have cited bands that Tim was a member of as having been a major factor in starting everything from punkfunk, skaterock, grunge, and garage; and all have played an important role in what is known, for better or worse, as the US indie scene today. The Big Boys, Poison 13, Bad Mutha Goose, Lord High Fixers,and Monkey Wrench are just some of the bands Tim was a founding member of. Some of Tim’s art from then is now in books depicting that period. He shared bills with the likes of Grace Jones, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Fugazi, Black Flag, Africa Bambaataa, and X to name a few. He has toured in the States and abroad.
Tim is now being asked to show his artwork in the US and abroad from galleries including PS1 in New York, 96 Gillespie in London, Slowboy Gallery in Germany, Outre in Melbourne, Australia, and Beams in Tokyo, Japan. He was honored to have been selected as the first artist for the Arlington Transit’s Art On The Bus program in 2010. He has also been involved in painting murals in Texas, Nashville, New York, Alabama, and California. The summer of 2015, Tim had a solo show at the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery. It then traveled in part to The Mill in Huntsville Alabama, and in full to The Wire Grass Museum in Dothan Alabama. He was also given a residency through Void Gallery in Derry, Northern Ireland, AS220 in Providence, and I.A.M. in Berlin. Tim was asked by artist Matt Stokes to help with his pieces The Gainsborough Packet (The Baltic & 176 Gallery), These Are The Days (AMOA), and Catata Profana.
Tim was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame by popular vote in 1996 which he says he is still honored, humbled, and confused by. His first band the Big Boys was inducted in 2017. The Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle asked to record an oral history with him in 2000 and he has donated a lot of his personal archives to the Austin History Library. He composes and records music for several choreographers who work in Austin. These pieces have been performed in Austin, New York, and California. He created soundtrack work for films such as Bill Daniel’s documentary, “Bozo Texino”, and Jan Krawitz documentary, “Drive In Blues”. Tim’s art is on album covers, posters, skateboard graphics, and advertisements and a book devoted to Tim’s art has been reissued through Monofonus Press. From 1990 till 2000, along with his library job, he also worked in a stained glass studio building windows, fusing and sandblasting glass.
There are many interviews with Tim in a variety of magazines, webzines, and books. He has been asked to speak on panels and also gave a talk at the college in Ljubljana, Slovenia about himself and his involvement then and now. The approach of an upcoming documentary being made about him, and also one about his first band the Big Boys, has Tim honored and surprised.
Through all of his life, he has never felt comfortable with labels and their restrictions. When someone confines him to one label, they do themselves and Tim a disservice. He is painting more than ever and is also now playing Irish and Old Time music with friends in Austin and wherever his travels take him. In Tim’s own words, “I’m not dead yet. I am still active and as proud as I am of all that has happened before, I hope I have not seen the best thing yet.” In the words of his friend Dan Higgs, “Keep Breathing til you stop, because there’s a whole lot of today before tomorrow.”