Terry Allen, a visual artist with a big heart, is one of the most loved personalities from the world of American Southwest. Musician, sculptor and theater enthusiast, Terry Allen is the perfect example of a Renaissance man. No matter if he’s composing a song or creating a sculpture, his unique sense of humor and criticism of the corporate machinery shine through his work. His playful mind doesn’t take music and paintings too seriously and prefers to see them as a source of personal joy. He loves to cite the great master of photography, Man Ray, who once said : You know, it’s OK to be a really bad artist, because they don’t hurt anybody. Not like a bad doctor.
Terry Allen grew up in Lubbock in Texas, which is certainly not the most exciting place for a child. Allen spent his young days hiding out in movie theaters and he knew every single theater in Lubbock in the 1950s. These places were shelter for young Allen, who wanted to get away from problematic, alcohol-fueled atmosphere at home. Allen grew up in a musical environment since his father used to sing and play country music at home, so it is not surprising that he picked up music at very early age. However, when it comes to painting, there was absolutely no one in Lubbock engaged in any sort of visual arts and Allen blames the city of Lubbock itself for the lack of talented individuals since it’s a boring flat place with harsh summers that last all year long, kill plants and make people tired. During his teenage years, the biggest visual impact for Allen came from the rock and roll stars and the aesthetics they cultivated. Also, once he was able to buy a car, he started to run away from Lubbock as often as possible. He decided to move to California, where he went to (Choinard Art Institute) and lived in Los Angeles throughout the 60s, coming back to Lubbock only to visit his family. Already in 1966, Allen was established as a musician, sculptor and painter.
Allen discovered, after he graduated from Choinard, that he can’t choose whether he enjoys more music or visual arts, so he kept being engaged in both realms. He writes brilliant lyrics for his music and his songs can’t be simply categorized as regular country songs. What he creates is a fine blend of rock and country, in which he sings about universal topics that anyone can relate to, such as family, love, religion, and violence. His work in multimedia also deals with universal issues, but there’s a significant portion of humor present in all of Allen’s sculptures, paintings, installations, even stage and radio plays. A good example of Allen’s approach is his sculptural installation called Humanature. It consists of 2 life-size figures, one male and one female, carved in clay and cast in bronze. The female statue is standing upside down, attached to a stone into which her head disappears while a headless male figure in business attire is leaning against a tree, looking confused and overwhelmed with problems. There are also some unintelligible sounds coming from the nearby speakers, as a part of the installation. These two figures symbolize the common human trait of turning a deaf ear, which means avoiding to acknowledge and accept reality. This is a very common human problem, especially in the modern era when we have to deal with so many things at the same time and Allen made a humorous remark about this behavioral trait through his installation.
Allen has received numerous awards for his work along with the great honors such as Guggenheim Fellowship and National Endowment for the Art Fellowships. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally, in San Paolo, Paris and Sydney. Also, his pieces are present in many private and public collections, the most notable among them being The Metropolitan Museum and MOMA in New York. Exhibitions are just a small part of Allen’s success – he has also written a theater piece Dugout which was published in 2005 and he has worked in both radio and theater. No matter his major awards for sculptures and in theater, Allen never forgot his initial love that was music and has recorded 12 albums of original songs, first one called Juarez and his most recent one from 2013, named Bottom of the World. He is still very active artist not only in music – his latest group exhibitions were held in 2016, in Austin and Houston, TX.
Terry Allen is equally famous for his music and visual art, but his paintings and sculpture have a wonderful complexity that completes his world of music. Allen is a musician who understood at some point that music is not enough and that he has much more to say. He chose visual arts as a means of the additional self-expression. His sculptures that can be found in various public places throughout the United States are a brilliant commentary on many issues of the modern world, most notably the human obsession with money, lack of face to face communication and slavery within corporate systems. All of that is wrapped up in Allen’s unique heart-warming humor.
The artist is represented by Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art.
Featured image: Terry Allen portrait – image via kutx.org
All images used for illustrative purpose only.
|2016||40th Anniversary Exhibition||Moody Gallery, Houston TX||Group|
|2016||Centennial Impressions From The Fort Worth Modern||Flatbed Press and Gallery, Austin, Texas||Group|
|2015||The Aviary- Birds of Flatbed||Flatbed Press and Gallery, Austin, Texas||Group|
|2014||Terry Allen||Alliance Gallery, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston, Texas||Group|
|2013||Editions||Moody Gallery, Houstin TX||Group|
|2011||Ghost Ship Rodez: Works from The Momo Chronicles||Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA||Solo|
|2010||One on One||Site, Santa Fe||Solo|
|2007||Day and Night||L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice, California||Solo|
|2007||A Tribute To Texas Art||Meadows Museum, Dallas, Texas||Group|
|2006||Blurring Boundaries: Musicians Who Create and Artists Who Play||Ellen Noel Art Museum, Odessa, Texas||Group|
|2006||Flatbed in Marfa||Julie Speed’s studio, Marfa, Texas||Group|
|2005||Early Bronzes and Sketchbook Studies||Holly Johnson Gallery, Dallas, TX||Solo|
|2005||Stories from Dugout||Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Houston,TX||Solo|
|2004||Voidville and Brands||Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA||Solo|
|2003||Hot Plates||416 West Gallery, Denison, Texas||Group|
|2003||Voices & Scrawl||Belgers Arts Center, Kansas City, MO||Solo|
|2002||Dugout||Pillsbury & Peters Fine Art, Dallas, TX||Solo|
|2002||30 Years of Landfall Press||Gerhard Wurzer Gallery, Houston, Texas||Group|
|2001||Artists Collect Art||The Nancy Wilson Scanlan Gallery, Austin, TX||Group|
|2001||PRINTSDRAWINGWRITING||The Sheehan Gallery, Whitman College, Walla, WA||Solo|
|2000||Terry Allen: Works on Paper||Bannister Gallery, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI||Solo|
|2000||25 Years||Moody Gallery, Houston TX||Group|
|1999||Terry Allen: IAH Airport Working Drawings||Moody Gallery, Houston, TX||Solo|
|1999||New To Houston: Recent Additions to Houston Collections||The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX||Group|
|1998||Prints from the Collection of David Durham||Griffith Gallery, Nacogdoches, TX||Group|
|1997||Terry Allen: Prints 1974-1997||Michael Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OH||Solo|
|1997||Household Goods||Texas Gallery, Houston, TX||Group|
|1996||The Bird Show||West End Gallery, Houston, TX||Group|
|1996||Liquid Assets||L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice, CA||Solo|
|1995||Bronzes & Drawings||UMKC Gallery of Art, Kansas City, MO||Solo|
|1995||Temporarily Possessed||The New Museum, New York||Group|
|1994||Mapping||UTSA Art Gallery, University of Texas, San Antonio, TX||Group|
|1994||Voices in the Wilderness||Moody Gallery, Houston, TX||Solo|
|1993||Voices in the Wilderness||L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice, CA||Solo|
|1993||La Frontera-The Border||Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego,CA||Group|
|1992||Printmaking in Texas: The 1980’s||Laguna Gloria Museum, Austin, TX||Group|
|1991||Positions in the Desert||Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA||Group|
|1991||Poets’ Walk||Citicorp Plaza, Los Angeles, CA||Group|
|1990||Contemporary Assemblage: Dada and the Surrealist Legacy||L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice, CA||Group|
|1985||China Night||Fresno Art Center, Fresno, CA||Solo|
|1985||Sao Paulo Biennial||Sao Paulo||Group|
|1980||Terry Allen||Baxter Art Gallery, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA||Solo|
|1980||Terry Allen & Charles Gaines||Phoebe Conally Gallery, California State University, Fresno, CA||Group|
|1975||Eight from California||National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.||Group|
|1975||Juarez Series||Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX||Solo|
|1970||1970 National Drawing Exhibition||San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA||Group|
|1970||Terry Allen||Michael Walls Gallery, San Francisco, CA||Solo|