Thursday, July 21, 2022
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8:30pm doors / 9pm show
Tickets $15 (discounted or free for members)
Mask & proof of vaccine required for entry
Join us for a screening of Lonnie Holley’s directorial debut, “I Snuck Off the Slave Ship” (20 minutes), which premiered at 2019’s Sundance Film Festival, followed by a live musical performance with Lonnie Holley and frequent collaborator Aaron Embry. Holley’s work is on view Blum & Poe, Los Angeles through August 13, 2022.
Lonnie Holley was born February 10, 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama. From the age of five, Holley worked various jobs: picking up trash at a drive-in movie theatre, washing dishes, and cooking. He lived with foster parents in a whiskey house, boarded on one side by the state fairgrounds and on another by a drive-in movie theater. At 11-years-old, Lonnie was picked up by the Birmingham Police Department for violating a curfew, imposed during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He was sent to the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children, which was little more than a slave camp for African American youth. After his birth family discovered his whereabouts, Lonnie returned to Birmingham to live with his paternal grandmother. He worked a series of jobs over the next ten years: picking vegetables for the Campbell Soup Company; working as a greenskeeper at a Florida Country Club; and as a chef for the opening of the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando. He returned to Birmingham in his early 20s.
Since 1979, Holley has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity. His art and music were born out of struggle and hardship, but perhaps more importantly, out of furious curiosity and necessity to create. That drive hasmanifested in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, filmmaking, and music. Holley’s sculpturescontinue the improvisational African American tradition of using found materials. Objects cast aside, or freighted withcultural meaning, are combined into narrative sculptures that commemorate places, people, and events. His work is now in the collections of major museums throughout the country (including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, among many others), on permanent display in the United Nations, and have been presented in the White House Rose Garden.
Holley did not start making and performing music in a studio, nor does his creative process mirror that of the typical musician. His music and lyrics are improvised on the spot and morph and evolve with every event, concert, and recording. From his earliest days as an artist, Holley would construct and deconstruct his visual works, repurposing elements for new pieces. This fluidity creates composite images that have depth and purpose beyond the original meanings of the works. The layers of sound in Holley’s music, likewise, are the result of decades of evolving experimentation. He has released 5 critically acclaimed albums, including MITH (2018), which The New Yorker named one of the best albums of the decade.
His debut film (as director), I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 and in 2022 he received the prestigious United States Artist Fellowship. Since 2010, he has lived and worked in Atlanta, Georgia.
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