The Double Life of Terry Allen
Synonym Journal, Issue 2
Terry Allen doesn’t see the disconnect between recording an outlaw country album in West Texas and making fine art for a gallery in New York. At 69 years old, the Lubbock native has created art that jumps between genre and audience, but somehow remains authentic. In his 50 years as an artist, he has worked in sculpture, music, painting, installations, theater, lithographs, literature, performance art, and radio plays. And, to him, it just seems natural.
“As a kid I kept notebooks and I would make lists of what I wanted to be,” Allen explained from his studio in Santa Fe. “It would always rotate between writer, musician, and artist. It wasn’t until much later that I truly realized that I could do all of it — that it’s all just telling stories.”
It’s Allen’s prowess as a storyteller that prevents his work from feeling fragmented; his pieces, no matter the medium, are held together by detailed story lines. Like David Byrne’s 1986 True Stories, a film whose soundtrack Allen contributed songs to, he weaves individual, off-beat stories together into larger, united works. Allen’s pieces, whether theater productions, prints, or concept albums, are focused on making connections.