Lifting Me Over, image courtesy the artist and Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York
Jeff Bailey Gallery in Chelsea is exhibiting the work of Alabama artist Lonnie Holley again, this time in a group show entitled Pitch, with two other artists,
Fabienne Lasserre and Halsey Rodman. Mr. Bailey was gracious enough to speak with Southernist via email about Mr. Holley’s work and the place of Southern artists in our city.
How did you first become familiar with Mr. Holley’s work?
I have known of Lonnie’s work since the 1990s. I am originally from Birmingham, AL, where Lonnie is from. His work is part of the Birmingham Museum of Art
‘s collection, and he is well known in the Birmingham community. His work is also part of the Folk Art Museum
‘s collection here in New York and other museums throughout the country.
What about his work made you want to represent him?
The work is both original and compelling. Lonnie transforms found materials into assemblages and sculptures that evoke everyday life.
Where does Mr. Holley’s work fit in with current offerings in contemporary art?
Many artists make assemblages and sculpture. What is important is to make work that is unique.
In what ways does the work of each of the three artists in the current show relate to each other (if at all)?
Each artist combines disparate materials in innovative ways, resulting in works that hover between painting, drawing and sculpture.
How has Mr. Holley’s work (both in this show and his solo show in 2010) been received by the New York art audience?
What, if any, challenges are there in representing a Southern artist in New York City?
I don’t think the challenges are any different in representing a Southern artist or one that is from any other part of the country.
My impression is that Southern writers have reached a level of respect/acceptance beyond the region faster than other types of arts and culture being produced. What is your response to that?
That might be explained by the larger audiences that literature and music inherently have, compared to the visual arts.
Has art made by Southerners had a harder time being seen as being beyond folk, craft or outsider?
I would say no. There are and have been many successful non outsider artists from the South, although the older ones usually left in early adulthood, like Robert Rauschenberg, and moved to New York. The photographer William Eggleston has had great success and I believe he still lives in Tennessee. I show two other artists from the South, Amy Pleasant (Birmingham) and Jim Richard (New Orleans) and they have strong careers, although they are not yet well known. It’s not as important for an artist to move to New York as it used to be.
Pitch is on view at Jeff Bailey Gallery through April 28.