What, precisely, does it mean to be Texan? That may be a question with no single right answer, but Terry Allen, over an artistic career spanning five decades, has responded with an exceedingly compelling one. From the lyrical inventiveness of his seminal country album Lubbock (On Everything), to the beautiful irony of his modern art branding irons, to the striking presence of his Countree installation at the Houston Intercontinental Airport, he has managed to reshape an identity too often reduced to simple clichés, without sacrificing the heritage that has helped shape it—and him—from the very beginning.
A childhood spent in Lubbock, Texas may have instilled in Allen the core of his artistic vision, but that vision gained focus at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, where he honed both his visual art and songwriting—two loves that would guide his career in the decades to come. Today, Terry Allen is a multi-faceted and multi-talented artist, defined not so much by the medium as by the message itself. Both a Guggenheim and a National Endowment for the Arts fellow, with pieces in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MOMA, he has achieved a distinguished platform for his art, without sacrificing for one minute the legitimacy or the power of its Texas foundation.