Brian and Hannah Burks are fixtures in the Birmingham music and art scene, but the creatives operate in a world that wasn’t really found in the Magic City even a decade ago. Now the Burks are the royal family in the city’s thriving punk, metal, and other thrilling genres of music scenes that blend perfectly with the visual artists that display at the shows. 2022 has been busier than ever, with plenty of celebrations still ahead. The Art By Burx brand is now hosting their 21st Birmingham Punk Rock Art Show (the largest show by a Burks yet), which will be at the new Ghost Train location on April 15th and 16th. They also have their monthly events at True Story Brewing Company-Heavy Metal Nights every second Saturday and First Friday Punk Nights. There will also be a 90's rave night at the new Ghost Train May 13th and the couple will be bringing back The Birmingham Erotic Art Party with Brian’s friend and longtime collaborator Adam Williams on July 9th. Brian’s works of art (and often Brian himself) can also be found at Adam’s shop and Magic City treasure, Birmingham Oddities. The creatives are also growing in their personal projects, as Hannah’s wrapping up belly dancing and other creative aerobic courses, and Brian is working on a project where he makes a different piece of art inspired for each song on 12 of his favorite records. So far he was completed Cake’s “Prolonging the Magic” and Rancid’s “Let’s Go”, and is currently working on The Pixies’ “Doolittle”.
These events have brought together thousands of people, but really started as a way for one person to get his art to those who had similar taste as him. “I just copied what I saw in comic books in the 90s, but I didn’t do anything serious with it until I was about 30 though,” Brian shares of his personal creative journey, “When I was a teenager I kind of replaced comic books and art with punk rock at one point. And then at another point I replaced all that with working, taking care of kids, and stuff.” In his 20s, he was working at a pizza place “and at night I would make really bad music as my hobby.” When Brian was 30 his daughter was born which meant he needed to find a quieter night-time outlet. Painting came out as the victorious alternative. “It just kind of snowballed from there,” Burx remembers, “Eventually people started asking me for stuff and it wasn’t just for my walls anymore.”
Caption: The world is better with Art By Burx creations in it.
He started displaying his work at events, but soon discovered that his art wasn’t always on the same vibe as the typical Magic City artist of the time. “Being in Birmingham and doing punk rock and dark art and what some people think is creepy or dark or weird or whatever-there’s not a huge audience for it at the traditional art shows,” the artist reflects. This was even more true 10 years ago. But then he participated in the Punk Rock Flea Market that came into town and saw that he wasn’t the only person with these interests in Birmingham. “I felt there was an audience for the type of stuff I’m doing I realized if I could get in front of those people more often I’d have better luck so I started setting up my own stuff and it just kind of propelled from there.”
They took a little break after the second Punk Rock Art Show, and have only grown since. The Burks take pride in hosting inclusive, all ages shows that never break out into fights. “If you come to the show and tell me you don’t know anybody, I’ll tell 5 people to come talk to you,” he shares, “I try to make sure everybody feels like they’re a part of something.” Parents feel comfortable bringing their kids to the events and hanging in the back while the youngins get rowdy up front. It’s a great time for all–except the system we suppose.
The next art show is their biggest yet, with 22 bands taking the Ghost Train stage over the course of 48 hours. “We’re gonna go all day for two days and see how it goes,” the organizers laugh. Brian is honored to have a hand in booking Salvo, which features many of the members of the formerly famous Pain band from Birmingham. “When I first moved back to Alabama when I was in my early 20s somebody handed me a stack of burned Pain CDs,” Brian shares, but he was immediately informed, “they’re broken up and you’ll never get to see them.” He’s been able to catch them twice since the new band formation, and is thrilled to have them headlining Day 1 of the Punk Rock Art Show. Salvo joins a thrilling lineup that is highlighted on a creative, colorful poster that is actually a fun collaboration between Burx and fellow Magic City artist Justin Stokes. “Justin sketched it up digitally and then I kinda inked it. It’s mostly him, and then he colored it,” Burx shares, “He put a bunch of little Easter eggs in there, like characters of mine and stuff which is really cool to see.”
While the Burks may host these events, they realize that it takes many cool people in a city to make them possible. “I appreciate every single person that comes to a show, or shows art, or plays music. It takes every component for all this stuff to work. Everybody is equally as important, and I appreciate all of them,” Brain reflects, “The people that go to events in Birmingham are the coolest people I’ve ever met. I used to be kind of an introvert. I would go to work and go home. I’d go to shows but I wouldn’t talk to people, but now that I’ve had to actually meet people and talk to people I know hundreds of people that are really awesome. There’s a really good scene of people who are solid decent people who help each other out and take care of each other and refer people to each other and support people’s business. I’ve probably felt more at home in Birmingham over the last 10 years then I’ve ever felt anywhere else. That’s really cool and I think it says something about the people around here that come out to things.”
It does say something beautiful about the people of Birmingham, and we’re thankful that the Burks are included in this uniquely wonderful city they call home.