Terry Allen: Some Pictures and Other Songs at Nina Johnson Gallery

Dec 2, 2019-Feb 8, 2020

The first Miami exhibition of legendary artist, playwright, and musician Terry Allen. On display are approximately twenty new drawings, including new work from his ongoing series Homer’s Notebook and MemWars. Over the past five decades, Allen has moved from popular music to sculptural installation, all the while blurring artistic boundaries in a pursuit of freedom. On the evening of December 4, he will play an intimate concert in Nina Johnson’s living room.

Terry Allen grew up in Lubbock, the Panhandle city also home to Buddy Holly. And though it’s about four hundred miles to Mexico, the border has often defined his life and work. After studying at Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) Allen sought about creating work that combined West-Coast Conceptualism with his own music. Starting with his 1968 series Cowboy & Stranger, Allen would fasten a reel-to-reel tape recording of a song to the back of a framed drawing. He called them “Paper Listening Movies.”

These led to the 1975 concept album Juarez, a double-album border corrido that follows four unforgettable characters as they traverse the boundaries of the U.S. and Mexico, sex and murder. Blending spoken word with honky-tonk, it was originally released with a portfolio of prints, and sounded like it was recorded first thing this morning. (It was, as it happens, recorded first thing in the morning; Allen traded some art for recording time at Jefferson Starship’s studio, but the only available slot was at nine a.m.) Allen stayed up the night before recording it, as if to get the sound of vision trails and highway hypnosis down on tape. Juarez is more than seminal, it is a haunting. As its characters hopscotch the border, and as Allen flits formally between pachuco jukebox and LA art school, Juarez shows the artist first surveying the vast cultural terrain he’d spend the coming decades exploring.

Terry Allen is a visual artist and songwriter who was raised in Lubbock, Texas. He graduated from Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and has worked as an artist & musician since 1966. He has received numerous awards and honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship and National Endowment for the Art Fellowships. His work has been shown throughout the United States and internationally, including Documenta and San Paolo, Paris, Sydney & Whitney Biennales and is represented in major private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) among others.

Opening Reception
Dec 2, 2019, 7 PM

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