Punk Rock & Paintbrushes: The intersection of art and music

Image: Photo by Rob Fenn

Walking into a Punk Rock & Paintbrushes event is like stepping into a room where your wildest dreams come to life. The walls are adorned with original artwork created by talents such as skateboarding legend Steve Caballero or The Vandals’ Warren Fitzgerald. As you make your way through an intimate crowd, NOFX’s Fat Mike might be walking around sporting a dress, or you could pass right by Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na. You might find yourself in a conversation with Noodles from The Offspring, catch a DJ set by Monique Powell of Save Ferris, or enjoy an acoustic performance by Strung Out. All while taking in one-of-a-kind pieces crafted from the inner workings of an artist’s mind.

Pure Imagination

Image: Courtesy of Emily Nielsen

Punk Rock & Paintbrushes was originally inspired by Emily Nielsen’s nonprofit ROCK VS CANCER, which was a collaboration of artists and musicians. “It started from an art piece that I, and Tim McIlrath of Rise Against, created to commemorate my personal remission from cancer,” Nielsen tells The Burn-In.

The Burn-In: How did all of the pieces fit together for you as everything aligned with your vision? 

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Emily Nielsen: As we began working with clients, more came to me, and slowly Punk Rock & Paintbrushes was formed. The artists we work with are passionate about their work, and we are here to support their vision.

TBI: Now, there are two sides to Punk Rock & Paintbrushes: The art management company and the art show production brand. What made you want to take on both aspects?

EN: Punk Rock & Paintbrushes does manage artists, which includes representation, working with their art online, and everyday management tasks, which we love doing. The shows allow us to work with a variety of artists that we don’t work with every day. They allow opportunities for those artists and very talented up-and-coming artists.

TBI: Tell me about some of the musicians, artists, and celebrities that participate. What’s the response been like about what you’re doing?

EN: Each artist we work with does this for the love of art and to connect closer to people and their fans. This is not their ‘full time’ job, so they appreciate the art shows as it is almost a passion project. If an artist shows their commitment to their art, I give that back to them and strive to elevate their vision.

TBI: How many events have you had to date?

EN: For the Punk Rock & Paintbrushes art shows alone, we have held around 100 plus shows in the last five years.

TBI: How has the event evolved since its inception?

EN: We started with a small group of artists, including Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio/Blink-182), Hunter Burgan (AFI), Warren Fitzgerald (The Vandals), and Danny Greene (artist). We now work with a variety of artists and are always looking to work with more. We have not only worked with ‘career musicians’ but have now expanded into the ‘punk rock’ community of music with family and friends. For our holiday show, Sara Wright is featured with her photography, and she is married to Tre from Green Day. Johnny Ness is also showing his art, and he is the son of Mike Ness from Social Distortion.

Image: Courtesy of Emily Nielsen

TBI: How do you choose your galleries? 

EN: We rent our galleries. We choose them according to their staff and management as well as location. Most importantly, we want to work with galleries that support us and believe in what we do. We are not corporate and want to ensure the galleries know the essence of whom and what we are.

TBI: You’ve also incorporated what you do with charity work. Tell me about that part of Punk Rock & Paintbrushes.

EN: The Sidewalk Project is a nonprofit founded by me, artist Soma Snakeoil, and musician Stacey Dee. We work with houseless communities across the United States. We connect to them through art and music with no judgment or barriers but are readily available to connect them to resources. For our holiday show, we are working with Vans footwear to produce “The Art of Shoes.” Artists will paint on Vans to auction at the show to benefit The Sidewalk Project. I feel it is a beautiful way to support our nonprofit and the communities which need us.

TBI: What would you say is the most unique thing about Punk Rock & Paintbrushes? 

EN: We work directly with artists and buyers, and we bleed passion and love for what we do. This is still a ‘do it yourself’ mentality. Many artists I do work with I have known for 20 plus years. This is a wonderful way to now work together in creating something different and elevating their art to the public eye.

TBI: The next event is coming up on December 21. Tell me what people can expect there. 

EN: This show will be our biggest Punk Rock & Paintbrushes art show yet. We have 20 artists and photographers featured. We have a variety of talent being showcased and have some amazing partners working with us, such as Vans footwear, Oakland Coffee, and AO Hemp. They will all be bringing a taste of their brands to the event. We have some great music from our featured DJs, but essentially, it is all about the art.

Image: Courtesy of Emily Nielsen

“We are creating art that is tangible and real,” Nielsen continued. “[Our] focus is on the creativity of artists and showcasing them without a computer screen but within personal connection and interaction. We want to connect our artists to fans and those who appreciate art. We strive to make everything we do real.”

I Dream My Painting And I Paint My Dream

The gallery for the December 21 Punk Rock & Paintbrushes event will have extra space and even includes an exterior portion. It’s the perfect atmosphere to celebrate and dance the night away to the tunes of Noodles, Stacey Dee-J, and Joe Sib.

This is an all-ages event. There will be a full coffee bar, cocktail bar, food trucks, and so much more.

If you’re in Los Angeles, you can grab your tickets here.

Image: Punk Rock & Paintbrushes flyer



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Sari Cohen is a journalist based in the Greater L.A. Area. She began her career in the entertainment industry as a stand-up comedy writer/performer and over the years has developed scripts for both the stage and screen. She currently covers music and live entertainment for AXS, reviews movies for Hollywood First Look Features and writes for InLove Magazine. She also pens funny stuff for popular sites such as Cracked and Screen Rant. You can often find her at concerts or on a red carpet somewhere, talking to someone about something. From on-the-scene reporting to exclusive interviews, she tackles every topic from music, movies and television, to fashion, lifestyle and politics. You can check out more on Twitter at @ask_sari or follow her adventures on Instagram under @thesavvyscribbler.