Allen's Curated Collection
View Allen's favorite works from other Baker Artists
Allen's artist profile
With more than five decades of making art, and traveling through or living in 37 different nations, my visual arts practice weaves multicultural references, abstractions and spiritual concerns into what appears to be a diverse array of 2-D and 3-D bodies of work. My creative intake is akin to a baker's sifter to where certain filterings edit and uniquely define each artifact or work as a signpost planted along moments of unique experiences. Over the course of these decades, I began to return to certain processes and core concepts, yet with distinct growth cycles.
Yet the origins of my work are closely tied to sitting as a small child upon my Dad's shoulders as he pointed out the constillations at night. (He taught astronomy at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.) I became a devoted star gazer and have remained so. In turn this led to a growing fascination with our limited understanding of time and space, ancient histories and the forerunners of each 2000 year cycle.
Although born in Annapolis, I was predominately raised on the post WWII island of Guam in the western Pacific where Chinese and other traditional Asian aesthetics predominated. There was no TV until I was 11 and brought to America in 1963. My western influences had come mostly through movies on Guam. In the late 1960's, my family then moved to another international crossroads: the Panama Canal Zone. I then lost all interest in TV for six years and became fascinated with Pre Columbian civilizations, especially the Maya, as we spent one to two summer months every year in Guatemala. At age 16 I was allowed to fly by myself out to the ruins of Tikel, where I struck up conversations with the archelogists, and so, considered becoming one for a few years.
My visual work remains deeply inspired and founded upon Guam as well as exploring Central America's jungles and miles of virgin beaches. In Panama I began to paint jungle animals and birds, while HS drafting classes gave me much needed discipline. Over time as my interests and travels expanded, I moved into new media, even as a deep dissatification arose concerning the limitations of my understanding and goals as an artist. Without understanding at first, I grew attracted to key ideas of quantum physics and the vibrational resonances of life. How does one paint a static image of that?
After leaving a 10 year successful military career, capped by serving 4 years on the Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, I entered into graduate school and came to a split in my work in the 1980's. I moved into sculptural abstraction for the first time by redefining my identity through cycles of entropy and rebirth. Horse yokes, leather belts and various found detris were incorportated into large wall sculptures. At the same time I was painting the largest paintings of my life as well as murals. During this process, I served as assistant to internationally acclaimed Arte Povera sculptor Salvatore Scarpitta for a decade. It was both a wonderful time and a trial by conceptual fire.
The next major shift in my work was in 2003 when I was selected to serve as a senior Fulbright scholar to Sung Kyun Kwan University in Seoul, Korea for one year. This reawakened my Asian roots and brought about a radical rethinking of my aesthetics channeled through an expanded color shift.
Shortly after returning home I then almost died of stage 4 cancer, which began almost 20 years of nine brutal near-death experiences. This birthed a spiritual hunger to seek the Creator. In those encounters I underwent a deep internal purging and realignment of my life and goals.
As a traveler, my creative process is founded upon cultural and social research, most often through the dilemma of the human condition. For me, creating art is like slow cooking. Some ideas have been stored for decades before manifesting in work I show, while other work, already exhibited, underwent several later reworkings. When I began to see and understand in those new ways, all my older work became fair game. At one point I destroyed two years of one of the most powerful bodies of my work. Their message was too negative. I realized that I was counter culture and began to disconnect with the demands of relentlessly exhibiting. I then entered in a few years of almost no exhibits, yet found a new, wonderfully free time of open experimentation.
Being naturally intuitive, I'm often surprised by the alchemy that happens in my studio, as if I start deaf, dumb and blind, until that 'moment' happens and a concept begins to reveal itself. Over time a cyclical array of disciplines evolved and melded back and forth, in order to express ever expanding horizons. I have since cycled through painting, sculpture, interactive installations, performance, videos and printmaking. At times, its taken me years to grasp the deeper truths and identities of certain works.
Allen began exhibiting his paintings in Panama in the 1960's, then in California in the 1970's before joining the Navy in 1976. While with the acclaimed Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, (1980-84), his work was exposed globally. After leaving the military in 1984, he attended college in Los Angeles and then a pivotal year in Paris, France. Upon graduation and being on the National Dean's List, he moved to Baltimore for his MFA in 1990. He began to exhibit along the East Coast and New York, as well as in Italy, France, Egypt, India and Korea.
He has been awarded two Pollock-Krasner Fellowships, along with four MD State grants, among other awards. In 2003-04 he was selected as a Senior Fulbright Scholar to Sung Kyun Kwan University in Seoul, Korea for one year, where he initiated MICA's exchange program. In that year he traveled to Japan to do research on Korea's historic impact on the early development of Japanese aesthetics. He was also invited to lecture at China's Central Academy in Bejing, as well as multiple locations in Korea.
Multiple residencies include Succat Hallel in Jerusalem in 2019, TAC at the Tannery in Santa Cruz, CA in 2017, as well as in Ireland in 2015 and 2014. Others include Chateau Rochefort-en-Terre in Brittany, France, Edizioni Pulchinelephante in Milan, Italy, the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program in Tribeca, NYC, Sculpture Space and the Vermont Studio Program.
Among many private collections, his work is also in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, the Everson Museum, NY, The National Museum of Naval Aviation, FL, the Pentagon and the Sung Kyun Kwan Art Museum in Seoul, Korea.
His primary studio complex is behind his home in Baltimore, MD. The other is downtown on the top floor of the Cork Factory, Station North Arts District. Visitors are always welcome in both. Contact: [email protected] 443-299-2937