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July 17, 2018 2:16 PM   Subscribe

68-year-old artist/musician Lonnie Holley has released the video for his new single, "I Woke Up In A Fucked-Up America."

In addition to featuring Holley's own sculpture and assemblage work, the video's set design includes a significant cross-section of Black artists, including Joe Minter, Thornton Dial, Purvis Young, Ronald Lockett, Mary T. Smith, James "Son" Thomas, Mose Tolliver, Jimmie Lee Sudduth, Mary Lee Bendolph, Mozell Benson, the Gee's Bend, Alabama quiltmakers, Richard Dial, E.M. Bailey, Joe Light, and Hawkins Bolden.
posted by mykescipark (7 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
I hadn't heard of Holley, and I don't really know what I was expecting but it definitely wasn't this.

But I like this a lot. Intense as heck though.
posted by aubilenon at 3:10 PM on July 17, 2018

Holy hell. That's some kind of brilliant. Play that before NFL games and I'll stand and salute.
posted by octothorpe at 3:29 PM on July 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is amazing. 2018 personified.
posted by h00py at 3:59 PM on July 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Lonnie Holley lives and works in Atlanta now, I think, but he’s originally from Birmingham, AL. His family’s land, which he grew up on and whose sand was the original material he worked in, was sold off (by ACIPCO? TCI? US Steel? Not sure) after they used it for decades to dump the refuse of sand casts then used to make cast iron pipe. It is literally poisoned ground. It’s also full of sand, into which various industrial binding agents have been mixed, making it great for sandstone carving. His first art was made from the detritus of industrial cast offs.

(This next bit is apocryphal, but the story goes around, and while I can’t find a cite for it I’m pretty sure the specifics are sound while the detail are exaggerated.)

In the 90s, the city of Birmingham refurbished Sloss Furnaces, a decommissioned blast furnace right in the middle of town. They turned it into a museum with a venue attached. Part of the plan involves local art exhibited in a new plaza around the cooling ponds. Several local artists, Lonnie Holley included, were invited to place pieces in “an industrial sculpture garden”.

The night before the unveiling, he drove up in a pick-up truck loaded with junk, pulled up next to the place, and tossed all the junk over the fence into the “industrial sculpture garden”.

The next day at the ribbon-cutting of the sculpture garden there was much confusion. Where did his piece start and where did it end? Is a pile of junk a permanent installation?

Lonnie Holley’s Installation was quietly removed by groundskeepers a few days later.

He’d made his point.

I have a painting he did hanging in my living room, I’m looking at it right now. It is the only piece of religious art that I own. It’s house paint on plywood, and consists of two kneeling figures surrounded in a blaze of pink white and yellow fire, a blazing cross erupting through their joined hands. It’s called “Two Women At The Foot Of The Cross, Catching Christ’s Spirit”. It’s one of my favorite possessions.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:25 PM on July 17, 2018 [52 favorites]

Lonnie Holley talking about his early life (from a series of audio recordings he made in 1994-95).
posted by plastic_animals at 6:11 PM on July 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Holy. Man.
posted by mondo dentro at 6:24 AM on July 18, 2018

this guy is fucking awesome. Like if Wesley Willis had a genius IQ.
I hope that doesn't sound dismissive. I mean that he has all the immediacy and charm of one of my favorite outsider artists, plus all the deliberate postmodern composition and performance chops of TV on the Radio. Thanks for sharing!
posted by es_de_bah at 12:29 PM on July 18, 2018

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