Lonnie Holley exhibition in Atlanta

UTA Artist Space presents the inaugural exhibition at UTA Artist Space Atlanta, “The Eyes Were Always On Us,” a presentation of new work by internationally renowned artist, filmmaker and musician Lonnie Holley. The Lonnie Holly exhibition, on view from March 23 until April 29, 2023, is a homecoming for Holley, who has called Atlanta home since 2010.

Born in Alabama, Holley has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity. His art and  music, born out of struggle, hardship, but perhaps more importantly, out of furious curiosity and biological  necessity, have manifested themselves in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance and  sound. Holley’s sculptures are constructed from found materials in the oldest tradition of African American sculpture. Objects, already imbued with cultural and artistic metaphor, are combined into narrative sculptures that commemorate places, people, and events.

Although painting has been integral to his forty-year career as a visual artist, the Lonnie Holly exhibition “The Eyes Were Always On Us” consists of works exclusively made with spray paint, oil sticks, gesso and acrylic on canvas, paper and  quilt. Holley credits the solitude and reflection offered during two recent fellowships–The Hambidge  Center in North Georgia and the Elaine de Kooning House in East Hampton–as the impetus to return to  painting at a large scale.

The new works on view during the Lonnie Holley exhibition are simultaneously improvised and  charged with layers of meaning, unmistakable from the assemblage works Holley has created since the  1980s. Changing with the Seasons, a new work painted on stretched quilt, similarly gives new life to a  previously discarded material. Paying homage to his mother, who was a quiltmaker, and ancestors who labored to pick cotton and were forgotten, Holley uses quilts as both a commemorative and healing  medium. 

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to inaugurate the Atlanta gallery with Lonnie Holley’s potent work,” Bridgette Baldo, Gallery Director, UTA Artist Space Atlanta, said. “Lonnie’s practice is incredibly dynamic, and he is a powerful storyteller. Through his art and music, he unearths  and uplifts the people, legacies, and histories that have been forgotten and overlooked.”

Holley, who has a long history as a musician with UTA, released his sixth album on March 10, 2023. Produced by Jacknife Lee, “Oh Me Oh My” includes collaborations with Bon Iver, Michael Stipe (REM), Moor Mother, Sharon Van Etten and Rokia Koné. Holley is the subject of “Thumbs Up for Mother Universe,” a feature-length documentary over 22 years in the making produced and directed by George King. He is also featured in “Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children,” a new podcast from iHeart Media. 

“Being from Atlanta, I’ve followed Lonnie’s artistic and musical careers for some time now and it’s an  honor to open the new space with a hometown hero like Lonnie,” Virgil “Tony” Parker, Sales Director, UTA Artist Space Atlanta, said. “I look forward to sharing his new work  with the city and give a warm welcome to those who are old fans of his or discovering UTA Artist Space  for the first time.”

UTA Artist Space’s new gallery in Atlanta is in the same building as its offices in the city’s Midtown area, making it a full-service operation for entertainment, music, sports and fine art. The launch of the permanent gallery follows a series of pop-up exhibitions staged by UTA at Pullman Yards and is the  gallery’s first permanent location outside of Beverly Hills, which opened in 2018.


Since the establishment of its flagship Beverly Hills location in 2018, UTA Artist Space has been committed  to showcasing art by globally recognized talent. With the announcement of a second Atlanta location, to  open in 2023, UTA Artist Space will bring its impressive vision and reach across the United States.

The  original location has presented notable exhibitions with interdisciplinary artists and creatives, including  Enrique Martinez Celaya, Mandy El-Sayegh, Conrad Egyir, The Estate of Ernie Barnes, Essence Harden,  Ferrari Sheppard, and Ai Weiwei, among others.

UTA Artist Space, Atlanta, is located at 1401 Peachtree St. and is open from 10am-5pm Tuesday through Friday and 11am 4pm on Saturday. 


Lonnie Holley (b. 1950, Birmingham, Alabama) lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. Born in the Jim Crow era of the American South, Holley began his career digging graves and picking cotton. Having been pronounced dead after being hit by a car, Holley claims divine intervention led him to the materials that inspired his art practice, which he began at the age of 29 with sandstone carvings.

Nicknamed “The Sand  Man,” Holley has received no formal training as an artist yet has tirelessly and prolifically devoted his life to  improvisational creativity, working across drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance and sound.

His work is held in the collections of major museums throughout the United States, including the Birmingham of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the American Folk Art Museum and the High Museum of Art, amongst others; is on permanent display at the United Nations; and was recently on view in the White House rose garden.


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