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Lonnie Holley: Tangled Up in De Kooning’s Fence


South Etna Montauk Foundation / Montauk / Art

Reflecting on his past, the artist and musician Lonnie Holley feels “Gratitude,” he recently told The New York Times. “I am grateful for the ability to be productive at all.” Born in Jim Crow-era Alabama, one of 27 children, Holley’s youth was turbulent. Racism was like a fog, smothering him; after being hit by a car, he was pronounced brain-dead and spent several months in a coma; later, he was sent to the Industrial School for Negro Children. And it was tragedy that led him into the arts: when he carved two tombstones for his sister’s children, who were killed in a fire, he discovered “art as service.” Two concurrent exhibitions in the Hamptons celebrate this remarkable artist’s vision, drawing on works he made during a residency at the Elaine de Kooning house. The pieces reflect Holley’s longstanding interest in sculpture, and also illustrate a pivot into mixed-media paintings. Found objects were sourced in antique stores and the surrounding woods. —C.J.F.

Exhibition runs concurrently with “Everything That Wasn’t White: Lonnie Holley at the Elaine de Kooning House” at the Parrish Art Museum, in Water Mill

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