Wet Paint in the Wild: Artist Lonnie Holley Hunts for Source Material in a Trash-Ridden Creek and Hangs Out With Stacey Abrams

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Among the local legends of Atlanta I continue to worship, there’s a special place in my heart for Lonnie Holley. My first encounter with the artist was actually of him as a musician when he opened for the band Deerhunter in 2013. Since then, I’ve delighted in finding his evocative and often haunting sculptures of found objects at museums around the country. Most recently, he opened up UTA Artist Space’s new permanent location in Atlanta with a suite of paintings, and I handed him a camera to show me the week from his perspective…

The very early stages of a new painting. In my temporary studio. Atlanta.

The very early stages of a new painting. In my temporary studio. Atlanta.

The first brush strokes of a new painting. Studio, Atlanta.

The first brush strokes of a new painting. Studio, Atlanta.

At the Big Ears Festival, where I was the artist in residence. I worked with young artists to make a music video. We went to the banks of a creek to film, and I noticed how polluted the creek was, so I started pulling materials out. Knoxville, TN.

At the Big Ears Festival, where I was the artist in residence. I worked with young artists to make a music video. We went to the banks of a creek to film, and I noticed how polluted the creek was, so I started pulling materials out. Knoxville, TN.

I had two scheduled performances at Big Ears, one with Mourning [A] BLKstar and one with an all-star band. I had an exhibit of my art up during the festival at the University of Tennessee’s downtown gallery, so I did a few pop-up shows during the festival, surrounded by my art. Knoxville, TN.

I had two scheduled performances at Big Ears, one with Mourning [A] BLKstar and one with an all-star band. I had an exhibit of my art up during the festival at the University of Tennessee’s downtown gallery, so I did a few pop-up shows during the festival, surrounded by my art. Knoxville, TN.

A photo from the second pop-up in the gallery. With Kevin Morby, Lee Bains, and Chris Stelling on guitars, Shahzad Ismaily on bass, Dave Eggar on cello, Cochemea on sax, Erin Rae singing back up, and Jim White on drums. Knoxville, TN.

A photo from the second pop-up in the gallery. With Kevin Morby, Lee Bains, and Chris Stelling on guitars, Shahzad Ismaily on bass, Dave Eggar on cello, Cochemea on sax, Erin Rae singing back up, and Jim White on drums. Knoxville, TN.

Thumbs Up for Mother Universe serigraph I made for a fund raiser with my friend Scott Peek at Standard, Deluxe. Waverly, Alabama.

serigraph I made for a fundraiser with my friend Scott Peek at Standard, Deluxe. Waverly, Alabama.

Paintings in my studio. Atlanta.

Paintings in my studio. Atlanta.

One of my work tables in the studio. Atlanta.

One of my work tables in the studio. Atlanta.

An old quilt that I am about to paint with newer paintings in the background. Atlanta.

An old quilt that I am about to paint with newer paintings in the background. Atlanta.

My neck pouch that goes everywhere with me. Whatever I need is in there, especially if I’m at the airport. Cleveland, Ohio.

My neck pouch that goes everywhere with me. Whatever I need is in there, especially if I’m at the airport. Cleveland, Ohio.

Somewhere between London and Cleveland, I got Covid. Had to miss a show in Cleveland and drive to Knoxville because I didn’t want to get on a plane. I was stuck in a hotel in Knoxville for several days before Big Ears started. This is the view from my hotel. Knoxville, TN.

Somewhere between London and Cleveland, I got Covid. Had to miss a show in Cleveland and drive to Knoxville because I didn’t want to get on a plane. I was stuck in a hotel in Knoxville for several days before Big Ears started. This is the view from my hotel. Knoxville, TN.

At the opening of “The Eyes Were Always on Us” at UTA Artist Space Atlanta, standing in front of my work with Stacey Abrams. Atlanta.

At the opening of “The Eyes Were Always on Us” at UTA Artist Space Atlanta, standing in front of my work with Stacey Abrams. Atlanta.

At the opening of the exhibition at UTA Artist Space Atlanta talking about my art with Stacey Abrams. Atlanta.

At the opening of the exhibition at UTA Artist Space Atlanta talking about my art with Stacey Abrams. Atlanta.

In conversation with Josie Duffy Rice, host of the podcast, “Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children,” at UTA Artist Space. Atlanta.

In conversation with Josie Duffy Rice, host of the podcast, “Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children,” at UTA Artist Space. Atlanta.

The entrance wall and guest book to the show at UTA Artist Space. Atlanta.

The entrance wall and guest book to the show at UTA Artist Space. Atlanta.

With Josie Duffy Rice at UTA Artist Space. Atlanta.

With Josie Duffy Rice at UTA Artist Space. Atlanta.

My friend Joe Minter built an incredible art environment in Alabama that he called “The African Village in America.” Here is his version of the Birmingham Jail where Dr. King wrote his letter. Birmingham, Alabama.

My friend Joe Minter built an incredible art environment in Alabama that he called “The African Village in America.” Here is his version of the Birmingham Jail where Dr. King wrote his letter. Birmingham, Alabama.

Joe Minter holding a found plaque of Dr. King. Birmingham, Alabama.

Joe Minter holding a found plaque of Dr. King. Birmingham, Alabama.

One of the screens for a serigraph print I made with Scott Peek at Standard Deluxe. Waverly, Alabama.

One of the screens for a serigraph print I made with Scott Peek at Standard Deluxe. Waverly, Alabama.

20.My new album, “Oh Me Oh My,” signed for a few music fans. Atlanta.

My new album, , signed for a few music fans. Atlanta.

Joe Minter in front of part of his “African Village in America.” Birmingham, Alabama.

Joe Minter in front of part of his “African Village in America.” Birmingham, Alabama.

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