Toledo Museum of Art Welcomes Living Legacy

By Artist Leroy Almon

By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter


Toledo Museum of Art’s Living Legacies exhibition organized a special event that featured Lonnie Holley on Friday, April 8, 2022 inside the museum’s Great Hall. The honoree is one among the 24 featured artists who contributed to the exhibit. Holley performed a one-hour set of improvisational music with guitarist Lee Bains, before concluding the evening with a one-hour public chat with Audrey Johnson, CEO of UnBounded Artists Development Community.

Among his hour-long foot-tapping performance were these lyrics, “he would sit by a big ‘ol tree and crying,” from a selection about fixing souls and also, “sitting there waiting on the spirit to come,” which both received applauds from an estimated 100 attendees.

By Artist Thorton Dial, Jr.

“Thank you for your hand claps. Hopefully you’re learning from what I’m singing. I remember telling my mother that I didn’t want to be a preacher, but people should learn from each other and the art on the wall that fills this museum,” shared Holley.


Holley was born in 1950 in Alabama. Since 1979, according to his website, he has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity in the areas of art and music. Holley’s sculptures are constructed from materials found in old traditional African-American sculptures. His work is on display in the Toledo Museum of Art and other major museums across the United States.

The exhibition is a collection of major works by African American artists from the southern portion of the United States of America. The Living Legacies: Art of the African American South features 24 unique works of art from multiple artists.

The pieces include large scale assemblages, mixed media sculptures, paintings, textiles and works on paper. The exhibition artists include: Leroy Almon, Louisiana Bendolph, Thornton Dial, Thornton Dial Jr, Richard Dial, Lonnie Holley, Mary Elizabeth Kennedy, Ronald Luckett, Joe Minter, John Murray, Jessie Pettway, Lola Pettway, Lucy Pettway, Martha Pettway, Rita Mae Pettway, Royal Robertson, Florine Smith, Georgia Speller, Henry Speller, Luster Willis and Estelle Witherspoon.

“I saw the collection and realize that there was so much information. We must all bring our friends, family, schools and churches back to review all this information, shared Holley.

The exhibition is supported presenting sponsors by Susan and Tom Palmer, seasonal sponsor ProMedica, and additional support from the Ohio Arts Council and TMA Ambassadors. According to the museum’s website, the exhibition opened January 15 and closes May 1.

Lonnie Holley 
Lonnie Holley with guitarist Lee Bains