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Lonnie Holley & Mourning [A] BLKstar

Saturday, January 20 2024
doors at 7:30pm
$20 advance
$25 day of show
$2 off for SPACE members

The peerless multimedia artist and songwriter makes his long-overdue Portland debut with the Afro-futurist collective Mourning [A] BLKstar as his backing band.

Since 1979, Lonnie 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, has manifested itself in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, music, and filmmaking. 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. His work is now in collections of major museums throughout the world (The Museums of Fine Arts, San Francisco; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Smithsonian American Art Museum; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and many others), on permanent display in the United Nations, and been displayed 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. In Holley’s original art environment, he would construct and deconstruct his visual works, repurposing their elements for new pieces. This often led to the transfer of individual narratives into the new work creating a cumulative composite image that has depth and purpose beyond its original singular meaning. The layers of sound in Holley’s music, likewise, are the result of decades of evolving experimentation.

Holley has released six critically acclaimed albums––Just Before Music, 2012; Keeping a Record of It, 2013; MITH, 2018; National Freedom, 2020; Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection (with Matthew E. White), 2021. His most recent album, Oh Me Oh My, produced by Jacknife Lee, which includes collaborations with Bon Iver, Michael Stipe (REM), Moor Mother, Sharon Van Etten, and Rokia Koné, was released in 2023, on Jagjaguwar.

He has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand, and shared stages with Bon Iver, Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Bill Callahan, Saul Williams, Tinariwen, Daniel Lanois, and many others. 

He has also experimented with film, photography, and video throughout his career. His directorial debut, the short narrative film I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. 

The 2023 podcast, Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children, follows the history of the infamous reform school in Alabama (which many refer to as a “slave camp for kids”) and profiles Holley’s early life and the struggles he and so many others suffered at the hands of the state of Alabama. 

In 2022 Holley was named a USA Artist Fellow. He was the 2023 recipient of the Skowhegan Medal for Visual Arts & Music. His visual art is represented by Blum & Poe Gallery (Los Angeles) and Edel Assanti Gallery (London). He continues to make art and music from his home and studio in Atlanta, Georgia.

The full 9-piece Mourning a Black Star band standing shoulder to shoulder looking impossibly cool.

A multi-generational, gender and genre non-conforming amalgam of Black culture, Mourning [A] BLKstar is dedicated to sharing stories and songs of America’s unfolding apocalypse. Their music melds live instrumentation with hip-hop production creating sonic frequencies that illuminate the African Diaspora.

Founded in Cleveland, the US-based Afrofuturist collective continues touring their music globally across Europe and the US, playing festivals from Crossing Border in Berlin with Lonnie Holley to Big Ears Festival and Le Guess Who? in Utrecht.