Lonnie Holley had a tough road on the way to fame. Born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1950, he was the seventh of 27 children, was taken from his mother at age 4, and at one point was sold for a bottle of whiskey. Then, having survived that inauspicious start in life, he found an artistic career while carving tombstones for his sister’s children who were killed in a house fire.
He began making carvings from discarded foundry materials and assembling them along with various found objects. In 1981, he brought examples of his carvings to the Birmingham Museum of Art, where his work was put on display, and soon his art was being shown by such institutions as the American Folk Art Museum in New York and the High Museum in Atlanta.
Holley’s work is being featured in Augusta this week for the Westobou Festival. He will unveil a sculpture celebrating James Brown on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 3:30 p.m. at Paine College’s Warren A. Candler Memorial Library. After that ceremony, there will be a spoken-word and keyboard performance at 5 p.m. in the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel on the Paine campus. Both events are free.
Other examples of Holley’s work can be seen at the Old Academy of Richmond County building on Telfair Street through Oct. 7 as part of a group exhibit open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
• Another Westobou-related special exhibit is on view at the Arts and Heritage Center in North Augusta. Sculptor Karen Rich Beall and painter Claire Ellen Corey have combined forces in a show titled Wonderland, presenting objects that are said to be multidimensional in both medium and meaning. See examples of their work at karenrichbeall.com and clairecorey.com
A free reception for the artists will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 6. The reception also celebrates the 10th anniversary of the North Augusta Artists Guild. The center is located on the first floor of the North Augusta Municipal Center.
For more on Westobou visual arts events, see westoboufestival.com.
THE AIKEN CENTER for the Arts has a gallery reception scheduled Thursday, Oct. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. for several new exhibits. The main galleries feature shows by Lila Campbell, Joseph Bradley, and members of the Artisans of the South Carolina Cotton Trail, while Bill Updegraff is exhibiting in the Aiken Artist Guild Gallery there.
The Cotton Trail group includes some 35 artists and artisans in a variety of media. Photographers, jewelers, potters, glass artists, a weaver and a topiary artist are among the exhibitors.
Campbell is an Atlanta-born photographer whose work has been seen in various publications as well as galleries throughout the Southeast. In addition to her photography, she recently launched “Day in the Life,” in which she documents a day with an individual, family or business.
Bradley is a full-time artist working in Greenville, S.C. He studied under Carl Blair and Emory Bopp at Bob Jones University and has had many exhibitions throughout the Southeast. He is the owner of Joseph Bradley Gallery in Greenville.
Updegraff began his career 30 years ago and is a signature member of several watercolor societies. He is a member with excellence of the South Carolina Watermedia Society and has had exhibits at the Lander University Gallery, the McCormick Arts Council at the Keturah and the Greenwood Arts Council Gallery.
PAINTER Georgene Wright will be the featured artist during First Thursday festivities Oct. 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Midtown Market; and photographer Mike Beckner will be in the spotlight at Summerville Art. Eryn Eubanks and the Family Fold will be performing as a prelude to their upcoming music festival that benefits Lynndale School.
AIKEN ARTIST GUILD member Nanette Langer is exhibiting during October at the Hitchcock Health Center. Born in Chicago, Langer attended the American Academy of Art and studied graphic art and illustration. Now a resident of Aiken, she is a member of the South Carolina Watermedia Society and a past president of the artists guild.
• The guild will present Celebrate Creativity Day on Saturday, Oct. 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Family Y of Aiken County. The annual event benefits the guild’s scholarship fund. Find class descriptions at aikenartistguild.org.
• Marie-Christine Maitre de Tarragon will be the speaker for the guild’s Oct. 8 meeting. Born in France, she grew up surrounded by art and horses. Since moving to the U.S., she has been training horses and creating equine sculpture and paintings. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Aiken Center for the Arts, and is open to the public.
THE MORRIS MUSEUM of Art calendar includes a variety of events, starting with the Porter Fleming Literary Competition awards ceremonies at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6. Winners will be announced in fiction, nonfiction, playwriting and poetry.
• Richard Stenhouse will be the Art at Lunch speaker Friday, Oct. 12, discussing his subtle images created on translucent Mylar.
• Self-taught artist Gary Russeth will talk about his wooden automobile models at 2 p.m. Oct. 14. Visit themorris.org for details.
AT THE LUCY CRAFT Laney Museum of Black History, the annual quilt exhibit will open Sunday, Oct. 7, with a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. At the same time, artist Sarah Hobbs will be at the Old Academy of Richmond County to sign copies of her latest book of images. She was featured in a solo exhibit last season at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art.
COMING UP: Art of Chocolate, the 17th annual art, music and chocolate fundraiser for Child Enrichment Inc., will be Oct. 12 at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. And the Aiken Center for the Arts will stage its annual Taste of Wine and Art fundraiser Oct. 18. Also take note of Historic Augusta’s Walk with the Spirits tours of Magnolia Cemetery Oct. 13 and 14, and the popular Greek Festival the same weekend.