DescriptionFROM THE ESTATE OF DR. EDMUND P. PILLSBURY
BALE CREEK ALLEN (American, b. 1968)
Graphite on paper
4-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches (11.4 x 23.5 cm)
Signed and dated lower left
Acquired directly from the artist
According to the artist, "This piece has never been shown. It was purchased out of my studio by Ted himself. It was part of a body of work called "The Good Alphabet and the Dirty Alphabet." There were only a couple of large ones made. This was the (B) [Beauty] from the good alphabet."
Austin-based Bale Creek Allen has been called a "true jack of all trades, working in many different mediums--painting, drawing, wood work, bronze, ceramics, photography, film, writing, acting, playing drums, and singing." "They all feed each other," he told Austin TRIBEZA reporter Lauren Smith Ford in November 2010."It's nice not to be obligated to one medium. They are all there for the taking."
The influences that shape him have strong familial connections. He is the son of two artists--noted visual artist and songwriter Terry Allen (also represented in the Pillsbury collection), and actress Jo Harvey Allen. His brother is musician Bukka Allen.
Allen grew up in Fresno, California, a city with surprising parallels to his father's hometown of Lubbock. Texas--two places, he told Ford, that "continue to influence his art like an ongoing series on tumbleweeds, tire treads, and road kill. They are all three dead objects that once served another function, and they become different in the landscape." He adds, "Some of my work comes directly from life experiences, while other work doesn't resemble me at all, it's observationist. That's what I love about art--finding a clear voice to convey emotion visually."
The present work is a fascinating conceptual piece which clearly appealed to Ted owing to its connection with one of his most enduring aphorisms: Art is the search for Beauty and Truth. Here, Beauty is written in one of the oldest and most complex Germanic fonts--the Black Letter--with its fragmented strokes and serif embellishments. It was the font used from the 12th century on, in handwritten manuscripts and liturgical texts before movable type was invented. The word Beauty, as drawn here by Allen in pencil not ink, and with many lines comprising each stroke, is actually quite hard to read. Is Beauty difficult to create? But Allen doesn't stop there. Beauty has actually been burned by the artist, charred all around the edges. In fact, upon closer inspection, it appears that the word might be consuming itself, since Allen has substituted some of the font's indigenous serifs for tiny flames licking out of the long strokes of some of the letters. According to the artist, "The fire can be both good thing and a destructive thing. Like passion for Beauty. The fire is a metaphor for energy which works both ways."
In apparently excellent condition, not examined out of frame
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