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Sale 1147 Lot 161
(African-American; 1958 - 2007)
Ma'am (Tribute to P.H. Polk)
Charcoal and chalk on paper
1994. Signed, titled and dated.
Provenance: the family of the artist.
Exhibited: Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Prentice Herman Polk was the official photographer at Tuskegee University from 1939 until 1984. This drawing by Allen was inspired by Polk's photograph titled, The Boss, executed in 1932. Polk photographed notable African-American figures such as George Washington Carver, the Tuskegee Airmen, and boxer Joe Louis. This remarkable drawing shows the influence of the later drawings of Charles White. Both artists were exceptional draftsmen.
"I love to paint and draw. It allows me to share with any number of people my God given gift. My favorite subject is the complexity of our human existence, our interaction with nature, our movement, our expressiveness, our determination, our attitudes and our beauty. I don't necessarily look for all of those elements when I paint, but I am aware of their presence. I often find my subjects in very remote locations. I believe that this connection is spiritual, as are aspects of my art."
Leroy Allen's innate artistic talents were initially honed by his parents, who supported and encouraged him every step of the way to remain close to art throughout his early youth. When he graduated from high school, Allen worked as a cartoonist for the Progressive Shopper News, a small black-owned monthly newspaper. He earned a bachelor's degree in design from the University of Kansas in 1977 and cultivated a successful career at Hallmark in Kansas City, Missouri.
It was at Hallmark where he met a group of talented black artists known as "The Kansas City 6" who inspired him to enroll in painting classes at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1990. From here, in little more than a decade, he went on to show his work on a national level and receive many honors. Allen felt his first real break was winning the Picture Perfect Merit Award in 1995 from the National Oil and Acrylic Painters' Society.
Leroy Allen held solo exhibitions at the Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans, LA and the Robert Frazier Gallery, Kansas City, MO. He participated in group exhibitions at the American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, MO; Hearne Fine Art, Little Rock, AR, and was featured three years in a row in the Black Creativity Art Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry (1996, 1997, 1998). Allen participated in the American Watercolor Society's 133rd Annual Exhibition, NY, 2000 and the National Watercolor Society's 78th Annual Exhibition, CA. In particular, Allen's charcoal drawing entitled, "Papa Jim," was featured in the touring exhibition, Southern Journeys, African American Artists of the South. His pastel, "Jairo," received a merchandise award in "Pastel '98", a national juried exhibition sponsored by the Pastel Society of North Florida at the Fort Walton Museum of Art. Allen was also part of the Black Romantic Art Show at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY, 2002. He was active in The Light In The Other Room, a collaborative of twenty-two, African American Kansas City based artists whose goal is to create positive images of black people.
Allen was a noted figurative artist, adept at working in oils, charcoal, watercolors, and pastels. His technical accomplishments allowed him to reveal a greater depth of humanity and character in his subjects. His favorite subjects were young people. "I like the youth, the strength." A particularly poignant moment in his career occurred when the family of one of his youthful subjects attended the exhibition of the painting, "Sundrops," at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Leroy Allen was equally talented in his rendering of landscapes, especially those of his favorite fishing spots. "They are a part of me," he said, "…I see backroads places that most people don't see."
Leroy Allen died in 2007.
39" x 28"
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