Greg Allen: A Certain Quality of Light – Paintings from the American West

Greg Allen: A Certain Quality of Light – Paintings from the American West

A Certain Quality of Light: Paintings from the American West
Works by Greg Allen
September 5 – October 6, 2023

Pyramid Lake’s Pinnacles, Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation, Nevada, 20 x 60 inches

 Over the Pyramid, Pyramid Lake, Nevada, 24 x 30 inches

The Last Land of Broken Dreams. California State Highway 127, Fifteen Miles North of Baker, California. c.1994, 16 x 41.5 inches

Apache on the Playa, 24 x 30 inches

Portrait of the Artist Age Six, c.1967

The Late, Great, Nevada Club, of Reno. c. 1996., 30 x 40 inches

Summer Monsoon Vigas Over the I-80 Corridor, Tracy to Sutcliffe Power Lines, and the Pah Rah Range at Sunset, 20 x 60 inches

Union Pacific EMD SD45 7521 Working the the Sparks, Nevada Yard, c. 1995, 24 x 28 inches

Full Moon Rise Over the Desert Moon Motel, Las Vegas, Nevada, 48 x 23.75 inches

The Late, Great, Zephyr Bar. South Virginia Street, Reno, 24 x 36 inches

Roy’s. US highway 66 at Amboy, California, 24 x 18 inches

Pussycat a’ Go-Go, Las Vegas, Nevada, 24 x 36 inches

The Safari Motel, Sparks, Nevada, 36 x 18 inches

Interstate 80 Detail Revisited, 30 x 40 inches

Lucky Motel, East 4th Street, Reno, 34 x 20 inches

Morris Hotel, East 4th Street, Reno, 40 x 20 inches

Reno View Motel, 22 x 27.75 inches

 Lucky Boy Dresden, c. 2012

Union Pacific in the Black Rock Desert During the Golden Hour, 12 x 36 inches

Southbound Pink Truck, Northbound White Truck, Nevada State Route 447 at Limbo, Nevada, 12 x 48 inches

Louella Flanagan Stands Amid the Destruction Caused by Her Paternal Grandfather’s First Raid, Operation Tidal Wave, the Mission to Strike Ploesti, Romania, 1943, 36 x 22 inches

Mousekateers at the Ivy Mike Shot, 1952, 30 x 24 inches

Joe Castello Representing, 36 x 24 inches

Surf Sun Valley. Landlocked, 60 x 46 inches

A Certain Quality of Light: Paintings from the American West

In 1962 my parents divorced and my father bought a house that had a flat roof with white rocks on it. I lived with my mother in an apartment with avocado green chairs and an avocado green shag carpet that we raked because it couldn’t be vacuumed. I was born into, and lived in a Mid-Century Modern world. Once I was old enough to care enough to notice, I didn’t care for the look one bit. The exception was cars. I dug my father’s new ’67 Firebird and my mother’s ’61 Chevy Impala. To my dismay at the beginning of the ’70s she traded in that big, beautiful car for a Toyota Corolla that was half the Impala’s size and seemed flimsy. I couldn’t have known it but soon the durable, well-built world of metal and Mid-Century Modern design would be traded in for one of  planned obsolescence.

Peanut #3 sitting atop a world of avocado green.

Some sixty years on decades of products made to fail, honed to a fine art, informs today’s modern world. Items purchased that come with a warranty are built to fall apart within weeks of that guarantee’s expiration. The warm glow of neon signage has been replaced with the cold light of plastic. Design reflecting the Cold War race to the moon deified America at the height of its power and foretold a future among the stars. Eventually twelve Americans walked on the moon, and that was as far as we got. Design stopped looking to the future too.

For my sensibilities current architecture and design doesn’t have a lot to recommend. Across Nevada (and most everywhere else I imagine,) Mid-Century Modern structures are fodder for the wrecking ball. Five-Over-Ones, that is five floors of apartments over mixed-use on the ground floor are springing up everywhere, and couldn’t look more shoddy both in design and construction. Here in Reno some of the most iconic buildings constructed in the middle of the last century have been repurposed as concrete slabs and dirt lots. What’s being lost can not be measured nor replaced.

What we’ve lost. Virginia Street, Reno.

In the 70s never could I have believed I’d develop an abiding love for post-World War 2 architecture and Mid-Century Modern design, yet here I am. These are the subjects of my main body of work. I celebrate their memory and through my work they still exist, if only in paint.

As a child I drew well, and always knew I would grow up to be an artist. I had little idea what that meant, except as informed by my immediate family it involved starving. High school art teachers made me their pet, and stood behind me transfixed as I struggled to draw humans with proper proportions. Throughout my twenties and into my early thirties money was earned as an occasional freelance illustrator and graphic designer. In the dark ages before computers cutting and pasting was de rigueur, as was deploying generous amounts of White-Out. I didn’t take my skills as seriously as I might have. That would change in 1993 when I began teaching myself to paint while recuperating from a traumatic injury. 

Editorial Illustration for Mountain Magazine article on competition climbing, 1986.

Beginning with my second art show in 1996, I’ve been lucky enough to support myself through sales of my work and occasionally accepting commissions. I’m grateful that people enjoy my production, and my work has found homes with collectors across the US, Europe, and South America. The artistic sensibility that is the largest part of who I am sees a beautiful world, and I’m grateful for every day I get to spend in it.

Greg Allen
August 9th, 2023


Greg Allen was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1961, into an artistically and intellectually gifted family. As a child Greg drew prodigiously, and after high school he pursued a passion for technical rock climbing and earned a living as a freelance illustrator. Greg relocated to Reno, Nevada in 1988, where he performed as a vocalist in a local band. He was seriously injured in 1994.  While recuperating, Greg began the lifelong process of teaching himself to paint. His work immediately attracted the attention of collectors, and through word-of-mouth sales, commissions, and gallery representation, he has sold over 700 paintings.

Greg Allen’s paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in businesses, galleries and museums in Nevada, California, and New Mexico, including the Santa Fe Museum of Modern Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada; the Las Vegas Art Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada; the Cydnie Maiss Gallery in Reno, Nevada; the Frank Hill Gallery in Reno, Nevada; Sun Mountain Artworks in Virginia City, Nevada; the Western Nevada Community College Art Gallery, in Fallon, Nevada; Galleries Cui-ui and the River Gallery in Reno, Nevada; and most recently at the Holland Project in Reno, Nevada. His work is in many private collections throughout the United States, Europe, and South America.

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View the exhibition handout here