Portrait: Ellen McDermott
Rebecca Allan is a New York-based visual artist known for her richly layered and chromatically nuanced abstract paintings. Her work investigates watershed environments and landscapes of the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, New Mexico, the Gulf Coast, Lebanon, France, and Norway, and is inspired by her deep interest in botany and land conservation. Bringing together her expertise in art and horticulture, in 2018 Allan established Painterly Gardens, a firm specializing in sustainable garden design.
Exhibiting in the United States and abroad for over 25 years, Allan has been represented in 40 solo, and more than 25 group exhibitions, nationally and abroad. Her work is represented in the U.S. Art-in-Embassies Program with a recent acquisition for the permanent collection of the new U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway. She is also represented in the Bronx Artist Documentary Project, the first photographic record of visual artists in the borough.
Allan's most recent solo exhibitions were presented at David Richard Gallery, (New York/Santa Fe), Anna Kaplan Contemporary (Buffalo, NY); Rockefeller Brothers Fund, New York; Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York; The College of Saint Benedict, Saint John, MN; Doane University, Lincoln, NE; Marsh Gallery, Indiana-Purdue University at Indianapolis, IN; Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY; Dryfoos Gallery, Kean University, NJ; and the Tippetts Gallery, Utah State University. Her 2011 exhibition, Horizon Lines, at Seattle Art Museum (SAM) Gallery was embedded within a performance of chamber music and film, commissioned by the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and created in collaboration with composer Laura Kaminsky and filmmaker John Feldman.
A dedicated advocate of land conservation, Allan was appointed to the board of the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust. In 2018, she was an artist-in-residence in the Provincetown Dune Shack program, and in winter 2015, a visiting artist at Lebanese American University in Beirut. In 2009, Allan was the first visual artist to have a residency and solo exhibition, titled "Watershed," at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, in Millbrook, New York, during which she presented a joint lecture with ecologist Dr. David Strayer. Allan continues to participate as an advisor for the Cannoo Hills Creative Arts Residency at the institute.
In 2012, Allan became a principle collaborator of The Crossroads Project: Rising Tide, a performance piece that addresses climate change through the perspectives of environmental science, chamber music, and visual art. The Crossroads Project creators were the keynote presenters at the National Conference of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in Los Angeles in 2012, and more recently for the Ecological Society of America in Baltimore, in addition to numerous venues in the U.S. and abroad.
Since 1993, Allan has been the recipient of artist’s residencies at: The Dune Shacks of Peaked Hill Bars in Provincetown; The Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France; The Burchfield Penney Art Center/University at Buffalo; The Hermitage Artists Retreat, Englewood, Florida; Centrum Foundation, Port Townsend, WA; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Amherst, VA; and Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, Temecula, CA.
As a critic and writer for publications including Art & Antiques, Fine Art Connoisseur, hyperallergic.com, and artcritical.com. Rebecca Allan has written on artists, including: Fanny Sanin, Sean Scully, Judy Chicago, Marcia Marcus, Dorothea Rockburne, Louise Fishman, and Robert Berlind.
Allan is the recipient of artist grants from King County (Washington) Arts Commission Arts-in-Education 2003, 1997; Seattle Arts Commission Arts-in-Education 1998; and Allied Arts Foundation, Seattle, WA, 1996.
In addition to her studio practice, Allan has held positions as an arts administrator, cultural programs curator, museum educator, and plant records manager. Her positions have included: Adjunct Instructor, (current/ongoing) The College of Mount Saint Vincent; Collections Assistant, Kykuit/The Rockefeller Estate; Plant Records Manager, Iroki Garden; Director of Public Programs, Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture; Curator of Education, The National Academy of Design; Senior Consultant for the Paris Drawing Program at the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, New York; Instructor, Purchase College, and New York Botanical Garden Continuing Education Program; Rostered Teaching Artist and Teacher Trainer, Washington State Arts Commission; Acting Chair and Instructor, Cornish College of the Arts; Museum Educator, Seattle Art Museum.
"My paintings are rooted in the dramatic cycles of nature as well as a deep curiosity about science, and the forces underlying what we observe on the surface of things. My working process involves drawing, mixing pigments and layering color over time — in response to the environment, and to observed and felt experience. For me, the language of color is a sanctuary within which the questions and problems of art making — indeed, of life — are confronted. I work within a transcendental American landscape tradition that includes painters such as Charles Burchfield, Joan Mitchell, and Neil Welliver but I also draw from the works of Renaissance masters such as Giovanni di Paola and Pieter Breughel in my desire to invent a new, cosmological landscape."