Birmingham’s music legacy celebrated in new art exhibition in East Lake

The residents of the Birmingham area can be proud of their city’s musical heritage, says Homewood native, music fan and prolific visual artist Craig Legg.

“Though perhaps not as storied as halcyon scenes such as Austin, Athens, Nashville or New Orleans, it is still a solid history, perhaps representative of most any city of similar size anywhere in the U.S.,” Legg told BHMSTR. “Most important, the players in Birmingham’s history can be proud of what they accomplished, faced with the odds stacked against them.”

Legg will now present an extensive new exhibition titled “History of Birmingham Rock & Roll,” featuring more than 300 paintings he created to depict the Magic City’s often overlooked musical scene. Legg said that his overall goal or mission in presenting the show is to “help Birmingham folks realize that their rock and roll history is valid, interesting and something of which they can be proud.”

“This exhibit will be a once in a lifetime chance to witness our special local rock music history in painting form, to see familiar faces in person and meet new like-minded folks,” said Travis Morgan, a long-time music consultant in Birmingham who founded Skybucket Records and co-founded the Secret Stages music festival.

East Village Arts, or EVA, was formerly known as Art Town and provides work spaces for artists. Legg serves as “Spacemeister” at EVA, he says.

It took Legg only about one year to create the hundreds of paintings to be put on view in “History of Birmingham Rock & Roll.” He begin painting them in 2019 and finished in February 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic came in March 2020 and “the world shut down,” he said. “The exhibit has been in my living room for 3 years.”

The show is the eighth iteration of Legg’s “Trading Card Series,” each of which covers some aspect of Birmingham history. Other examples include baseball, football, jazz, visual artists and the World Games Birmingham.

Emmy Lou Harris, Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice, Saturn, Sloss Furnaces, The Nick and Workplay are some of the local artists and venues Legg has included in the exhibition. There are “too many to list, everyone from Country Boy Eddie to Eddie Kendricks,” Legg said.

Morgan learned of Legg’s new exhibition while working on a local music research project and tracking down some of Legg’s photos.

“I can’t even begin to explain Craig’s dedication to this painting series,” Morgan said. “The word ‘series’ sounds like a convenient word, but it doesn’t accurately depict all that he’s made.”

Legg “has cemented the importance and value of our rock and roll music faces and places on canvas,” Morgan said. “I’ve always felt that Birmingham’s music contributions have been drastically underrepresented, undervalued and unknown to many.”

The opening of the exhibition “will bring together more than 50 years of people who have played a role in Birmingham’s astounding rock and roll music history,” Morgan said.

“History of Birmingham Rock & Roll” will open at East Village Arts, located at 7611 First Ave. N in East Lake, on Saturday, Jan 28, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The event, described by the organizers as “G rated,” is free to the public. The event is also BYOB.

Following the official opening, “History of Birmingham Rock & Roll” will be open on Saturdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. through the end of March.

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