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Margo Allman, circa 1980s, photo credit: Carson Zullinger

Margo Allman, circa 1980s, photo credit: Carson Zullinger

PRIMAL IMAGES: JOURNEY FROM A SUBWAY SEAT
Margo Allman

September 5 - December 19, 2019

OPENING RECEPTION:
Friday, September 6 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop

Margo Allman, a distinguished regional artist for over 60 years in painting, drawing, and sculpture, doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. In her first solo exhibition at The Delaware Contemporary, Allman searches for meaning from the vantage point of a seat on a New York City subway. Unlike the experience of a Denzel Washington thriller, Allman found her own "thrill" during frequent subway treks in the city that never sleeps. Embodying the belief that even the mundane elements of everyday life serve as stimulus for the imagination, Allman's innate tunnel vision explores the heads of other commuters in transit.

Primal Images: Journey from a Subway Seat presents 15 small and large-scale monochromatic acrylic paintings on paper and Tyvek, the virtually indestructible high-density polyethylene fiber sheets made by DuPont. "Not paper. Not fabric." This exhibition examines Allman's evolution as an artist. The head series diverges from the emotionally restrained geometrics of her emblematic egg-shape series to reveal ambitious, metaphysical paintings dating back to the 1980s. While her embryonic "ovoids" persist in subtle form, Allman sees her head series primordially as "heroic-sized visages or universal archetypes, both primitive and androgynous."

Colossal in scale, the paintings transcend abstract expressionist labels, revealing Allman's fascination with movement. Amorphous contours and the poetry of her calligraphic lines dance across the composition, allowing for spontaneity while remaining resolute in experimentation. Untamed rivers of acrylic paint pool together in harmonic layers of emerging form that sprout like fiddlehead ferns, while the objects collide into complete abstraction. Taking cue from the subway seat, Allman has captured the world around her and documented a connection between time and space. Seeing her paintings, viewers are captivated not only by the curvilinear forms, but in ruminating their own passage of time, aging, loss, impermanence, identity, or aspirations in relation to the visible world.

With her own original visual language Allman proclaims, defines, and affirms one's place in the universe, with unheralded artistic talent that stands as a unique contribution to art history. For Allman, experimentation over the years has brought perfection, resulting in an unmitigated blend of raw imagination as intrinsic as breathing. She continues to hold a place in the canon of abstract expression.

Celebrating the achievements of Margo Allman through this exhibition, The Delaware Contemporary embarks on a new collaboration with Delaware College of Art and Design in creating the Allman Gallery Fellowship, a competitive, paid fellowship that offers professional development in the field of museum curating to second-year students.

Margo Allman was born in New York City in 1933 and attended Moore College of Art and Design, where she studied under Leonard Nelson. While at Moore, Nelson directed her to the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art in New York.

Since 1954, Allman has participated in countless solo and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad. Some of her most recent include the Biggs Museum of American Art, Dover, DE, 2017; the Meridian Bank, PA, 2016; West Chester University Art Gallery in 2008 and 2015; the Delaware Art Museum, 2015; Widener University Art Gallery, PA, 2014; Blue Streak Gallery, Wilmington, DE, 2012; and the Serpentine Gallery, PA, 2011.

Allman has been featured in numerous honors publications, including Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the East, Who's Who in American Women, and Who's Who in the World. She received the Distinguished Alumnae Award from Moore College of Art Design, 1998, the Landscape Prize from Wilmington Trust Bank, 1969, and the Mildred Boericke Prize from the Print Club, 1958, in addition to numerous other awards for her sculpture, drawing, and woodcuts.

Allman is represented in the permanent collections of the Delaware Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, West Chester University, Tidewater Publishing Company, Hercules, Inc., Dansko, and others.

Allman served as a member of the board of directors for both the Robert Small Dance Company in New York City, 1979-1980 and for the Print Club of Philadelphia, 1962-1963. She is a charter member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., and a long-standing supporter of The Delaware Contemporary.

Constance S. & Robert J. Hennessy Project Space