Terry Allen: When History Is Personal





The historian Terry Allen practices his calling somewhat differently from his more academic colleagues. Although his recent book, Dugout, published by a scholarly press, puts him on the shelves alongside ten-ured professors, Allen is better known as a singer/songwriter who defies categorization; a visual artist who rico-chets among drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and installations; a poet who channels voices from across different times, places, and cultures; and a maker of unexpected public monuments that please passers-by while gently provoking them to see the world differently.

Dugout, his epic of the Allen clan that lived in and around the Texas Panhandle, focuses on the years from the post-Civil War period to the post-World War II era, but connects the primordial oceans to 1950s science-fiction films and many other eras in between. Dugout does not take the traditional forms used for the genre of history. Rather than bound volumes embedded with primary documents or archival photographs, this quasi-genealogical study is offered to us in parts, including a ra-dio play, six assemblage ta-bleaux, hundreds of pastel-and-ink drawings, an even-ing-length theater work accompanied by live music and monumental video projects, and a large-scale sculptural installation. ...

The cycle of works is loosely based on the lives of Allen's own parents: a former professional baseball player turned music and wrestling promoter, and a honky-tonk piano player who had been kicked out of college for playing in an integrated combo. ...



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