Leslie Allen (b.1954) is an American artist whose intrinsic connection with the Rio Grande U.S./Mexico border defines and inspires her every stroke. Born in New Mexico and raised in El Paso, her work has been described as “high-octane abstraction” for its daring colors and gestures that mimic the diversity of the vast desert landscape, as well as the tensions of a political border. Her works knit together an expression of the region’s deluge of contrasts: crimson southwestern sunsets to the blackest of nights, a blistering, still heat against the vibrant buzz of Juarez, delicate cactus blossoms, and the majestic Franklin Mountains.
That Allen’s improvisational style is also driven by music is no coincidence; she is an impassioned cellist in the College of Marin Symphony Orchestra. She uses brushes, knives, brayers and blades with outstretched arms to compose each piece; whether geometric, lyrical, figurative or monotype it all coalesces into an oeuvre of expressive abstraction.
Allen credits Mark Adams (watercolorist and master weaver), Thomas Marsh (classical sculptor), and Chester Arnold (illusionist oil painter) as her greatest mentors. It was Arnold who urged her to abandon the delicate watercolors of her earliest exhibits for the bolder commitment of oils, and in doing so she unleashed the full amalgam of her borderland culture, her penchant for small-plane topographical exploration, and her rich life experiences.
Today, Leslie Allen lives and works in Sausalito, California. She is represented by Kennedy Contemporary in Newport Beach and Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley. Her works reside in private and public collections throughout the United States as well as in London, Toulouse, Dusseldorf, Berlin, and Bern.