Tim Allen: Branching Out, Letting Go
A show of recent work by Tim Allen is opening for Gallery Walk at The Dianich Gallery, 139 Main St., Brattleboro, his first local exhibit since showing at the Windham Art Gallery in late 2008. These paintings are sure to surprise art lovers in the region who have grown fond of Tim's skillfully detailed birch trees over the past several years....
Tim's website, www.timallenart.com, welcomes visitors with this thoughtful statement and an illustrative banner from one of the representational birch tree paintings with which his local fans are familiar. That banner example was painted in oil on a wide birch panel in 2003, though much of what is found in the website portfolio is from just three to five years ago. Anyone looking for an infusion of Tim's birches, and their calming effect on the psyche, need only pause for a few moments while heading into the new Richards Building at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, between the older section of the main building and the wing of doctors' offices. A massive 7x12-foot painting that was hanging for a time at All Souls Church in West Brattleboro now graces the hospital wall -- thanks to a challenge grant from the Wolf Kahn & Emily Mason Foundation and some assistance from Mara Williams Oakes in raising the matching gifts required for its purchase.
Tim's website also reveals some fairly austere landscape paintings from the early to mid-2000s. But Tim has "branched out" now, "grown" in new directions of late, let go of the strict realism he so clearly embraced in the past. He invites viewers to explore this recent work during April and shares these thoughts:
"The pieces in this show are evidence of a transition in how I approach my painting practice; they are the result of experimentation, collaboration with other artists, and a determination to paint with less agenda and more spontaneity and freedom. You will notice collage, lines made with graphite and other drawing tools, stamping, and metallic colors in these paintings; all new media for me."
Tim's journey as an artist and a Vermonter has had some twists and turns. In his brief bio-statement he writes: "I was born in 1964 on the gulf coast of Florida, where I started drawing and painting at a young age, and where I lived until moving north to study industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1982. Instead of continuing with a design career after college, however, I studied muscular therapy and in 1991 opened a bodywork and exercise practice in Cambridge, Mass., where I lived until moving to Vermont and starting to paint again in 2001."
When Alexander Gutterman wrote in The Commons about Tim's work in the Windham Art Gallery (WAG) show in October 2008, he elicited Tim's thoughts on what drew him to art in the first place:
"I think that a lot of my motivation as a young artist revolved around wanting attention," he said. "I was fairly insecure and got a lot of positive attention for the art I created. That became my way to identify myself in the world."
But over time, Allen found himself "working for and desiring more of a connection" with his inner being.
"I think I had created something of a faç around my external being and left my heart behind because initially I didn't know how to do both [the technical and the inner work]," he said....
Art, he notes, can bridge the universal contradiction between individual human solitude and the connectedness of the human family.
In fact, Tim's interest in also making more visible the connection between artist and gallery observer led him to insert himself at an easel in the middle of the 2008 WAG show, gradually creating a new painting as the days passed so that the public could observe the artistic process in action.
Over the past few years, as Tim's interests in more experimental work began evolving, he began expanding his network of support within the area's community of artists. Helen Hawes, for example, introduced him to the enjoyable, spontaneous practice of several artists working together on a large painting or drawing using a wide range of available materials. "We cycle through the group in a particular order, each of us taking one minute to make our 'mark' or marks on the paper," Tim explains. "Helen always encourages us to develop a relationship with the emerging work of art, to ask what the picture wants, and to listen deeply. By listening we can connect to something sourced not from us but through us. Less ego, more authentic voice. Less head, more heart. The collaborative process is a relief from the isolation and responsibility of making art on my own. It also is an exercise in letting go; not getting too attached to my own marks, because they will likely be obscured by someone else's; and in trying out new materials and techniques."
He has also found coaching with Lyedie Geer to be valuable. "I called on Lyedie after talking with her at a Brattleboro Museum function. I'd been looking for someone to help me solidify my painting practice and develop better studio habits and discipline. We worked together for about a year, and the experience has given me a much more solid foundation and more confidence in my ability to make art from a place of not-knowing." Definitely time well spent.
A month-long residency at Vermont Studio Center in January 2012 was also a growthful experience, about which Tim says: "What a privilege to have a large studio in which to work, to be housed and fed, with no other obligations for a whole month. I had the opportunity to explore and expand while painting for long, uninterrupted periods; to meet other artists; appreciate my love of color; get feedback. I'll be returning to VSC in May for Vermont Artists Week."
In the meantime, join Tim at an opening reception for his new show in The Dianich Gallery from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday, April 5. Exhibit hours are otherwise 12 to 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment.
Tim offers Gallery Walk readers the following inspirational words that guide him in making art and living his life:
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