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Gary Allen



To be posted...



by Paola Hidalgo

Interview Allen

Gary Allen is one of the many artists that was a part of the Golden Age of New Paltz. Allen has been a painter, photographer, and illustrator with serval years of doing postal art. His work has appeared in many magazines, books, and newspapers. Currently, Allen writes and does photography. He has written, edited and contributed to about 40-odd published books, mostly about food history.

How did you find your passion for art?

I wanted to be an artist from the first time I realized that such a thing even existed. My mother told me that, when I was around three- years -old, she noticed that something had changed in her bedroom. She realized that it was the wallpaper. I had carefully colored in all the flowers I could reach, so the room subtly changed, at least the bottom four feet of it. 

When I was about 15 years old I read an article about the process used by Milton Glaser’s Push Pin Studio to create the opening titles for a TV show. It suddenly occurred to me that everything in the world was the result of conscious choices. It meant that the role of a designer boils down to just that: making choices. I also realized that there was not much difference between what a “commercial” artist does and what a “fine” artist does. The purpose of their work might differ, but the thought process, the choice-making, is the same.


What do you love most about art?

What I like most about art are the things you discover along the way. Every time you start out you don’t know where you’re going and as you look forward you wind up somewhere different. More directly, I once saw an exhibit of Dan Flavin’s work in the old Castelli Gallery. He had placed green fluorescent lamps throughout an empty white room. After being there for a while, my eyes adjusted and everything seemed normal, until I looked out the window. The world was now purple. His art had literally changed the way I saw the world. Coloring in the wallpaper as a three-year-old was—obviously, in retrospect—an attempt to change the world through art.

What makes the Golden Age of New Paltz unique?

I think it was just the combination of people who were there at the same time, it’s amazing. We all supported each other artistically, and then financially because most of us didn’t have any money, so we all took care of each other.


Do you have someone that you love to work with the most and admire?

In college, I became good friends with Robert Schuler who was a print making professor. He was my college professor in New Paltz, he recently died a few months ago. I worked with him in various ways helping him with his own work and we were in business together for a while. Schuler and I were partners in a business, creating experimental buildings with sprayed urethane foam. He also introduced me to many artists in New York City. We were both involved in Experiment in Arts and Technology. This was a group that fostered collaboration between artists and engineers.


What did you learn most from the Golden Age at New Paltz?

You can do practically anything and people will accept. It was strange, when I was in high school I liked to write, and draw. The teachers that I liked the best told me that my interest in science conflicted with it and I should probably give up one or the other. Robert Schuler was a scientist and an artist and he showed me I can combine them in interesting ways. I used mathematics in my work to generate color sequences for painting. I learned how to also design a lighting system which helped me combine both the science and arts.


What do you do today?

The only visual art I do now is photography. I do a lot of photography, but I’ve become a writer so that’s most of my creative work right now. The process is the same. A switch of medium doesn’t change the goal of changing the way people see.

What advice would you give the youth?

One advice I will give the youth is if you really love it, just do it. Don’t decide that you need to do something else for living because of money. No, if that’s really what you love do it.

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