“A churning waterfall of creation.” – Stephen Malkmus, Pavement 

Dubbed “a churning waterfall of creation,” by Stephen Malkmus of Pavement and “…the Johnny Appleseed of art” by Time, Steve Keene’s vibrant and engaging paintings emerge from a punk-rock ethos that upends the usual conventions of the art world. Working from his Brooklyn studio, Keene creates 50+ paintings each day, producing over 300,000 pieces during a career that now spans more than 30 years.

The revolutionary Steve Keene will join the Big Ears Festival with a live, experiential painting performance. Keene will have a pop-up studio, RED Gallery in Knoxville’s historic Old City, for people to watch him create change to dozens of pieces at a time, usually painted in series of four or six-of-a-kind. He utilizes quick-drying acrylic paints and a screen-printing technique of moving from broad swaths of color and gradually moving to the more detailed work.

As a prelude to Steve Keene’s live painting appearance at Big Ears, the festival is presenting the debut of The Hirschhorn Collection’s “Paintings by Steve Keene.” This expansive exhibition of some of his more rare works will open on March 1 at RED Gallery. It will run until the gallery space is modified to accommodate Keene’s live painting during the festival weekend, which will start on March 21.

Make sure to visit the gallery during your stay to watch him work. Pick up a few of his hand-painted originals, then head over to the Big Ears Festival Merch Store to snag his newly published book, Steve Keene Art Book (Hat & Bear Press / Tractor Beam), a sprawling and lovingly curated collection of Keene’s art. You can also look forward to a talk with multifaceted NYC-based photographer, journalist, producer, curator, art publisher, and the book’s producer, Daniel Efram.

Read: Fine Art Globe: “Steve Keene is Having a Moment”

(Photos of Steven Keene courtesy of Daniel Efram, The Steve Keene Art Book)

Knoxville, TN · USA



Explore the lineup of upcoming Big Ears performances.


Discover travel, lodging, & dining options to enhance your festival experience.


Big Ears is made possible by the passion & generosity of our supporters.


Learn more about what The New York Times calls “one of the world’s greatest music bashes.”