PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Dallas July_August 2021

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L onnie Holley is the breakout art star of this summer, nationally touted with a profile by The New York Times for his two exhibitions in the Hamptons — one at the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, and the other at the South Etna Montauk Foundation, Montauk. The doubleheaders also earned the artist coverage in Forbes, Cultured, Bloomberg, Artnet, and Artdaily. Soon Holley will be showcased in Texas, presented by the Dallas Contemporary as one of the exhibitions timed to the Dallas Art Fair, come April 2022. All of this is beyond improbable for a self-taught Black artist and musician born in Alabama in 1950, the seventh of 27 children. The road from Birmingham to the Hamptons is a remarkable American journey — a narrative that exposes the dark secrets of our past, including his childhood at the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children, a forced labor camp established by notorious Alabama racist Bull Connor, then later working alongside his grandmother to dig graves for the little girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. Today, the septuagenarian artist is a figure of redemptive love, with a practice that's beyond the outsider in its knowledge of the current times and the heavy weight of our shared history. One who plays an uplifting role in this story has Texas ties: Dallas Art Fair co-founder Chris Byrne, owner of the Elaine de Kooning House in East Hampton. This past decade has seen some of the most exciting and noteworthy artists in residence there, in a program Byrne organically developed. Byrne has known Holley for close to a decade due to their mutual friendship with the late Bill Arnett, founder of Souls Grown Deep Foundation, where Holley is a featured artist alongside the quilters of Gee's Bend and the late Thornton Dial, whom Holley introduced to Arnett. (Read an interview with Holley and his tumultuous, shocking biography here: artist/lonnie-holley.) Byrne invited Holley for a residency at the Elaine de Kooning House last November, and the artist had a rare opening among all the COVID cancellations. A polymath talent, Atlanta-based Holley kept a brisk schedule pre-pandemic that included international sold-out music performances; appearances in documentaries on his life; his own film, I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, which screened at Sundance 2019; and talks and panel addressing art and race — including one in March 2020 with Byrne and Dallas Contemporary executive director Peter Doroshenko in Aspen. POETRY FROM THE PROSAIC TO THE PROFOUND Holley accepted the invitation and went to East Hampton, taking up residency in a studio with a legacy in American art. It was originally used by ab-ex THE GREATEST AMONG US: WHOLLY, HOLY LONNIE HOLLEY A PREVIEW OF THE SINGULAR TALENT COMING TO DALLAS IN 2022 By Catherine D. Anspon. Portrait Katherine McMahon. Lonnie Holley's Reusing the Power, 2020, at Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY (continued) 60

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