For Painter Kery Allen, It's What's Inside That Counts

Kery Allen's "Dinosaurs and Dragons."
Kery Allen's "Dinosaurs and Dragons."
Kery Allen

You can find art all over town — not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.

Aurora native Kery Allen filled up her high school schedule with art classes — “Probably because I didn’t like anything else,” she says. When she enrolled at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Allen was initially interested in pursuing a major in art education, but she soon traded teaching for painting, and also got into printmaking. “With painting, I felt like there was the most space to grow, and to be independent,” she explains. "There are so many opportunities to break from tradition with mixed media and collage.”

Since graduating in 2012, Allen has taken odd jobs to fund her painting habit — and that landed her at Endorphin, at 2700 South Broadway, where she’s working and getting her yoga teacher certification. She's also showing her art on the yoga studio's walls.

She's donated pieces for a Nepal fundraiser at a studio in Gunnison as well, and her paintings appeared at this summer's Jackalope Art & Craft Fair. Now you can find her vibrant skulls at Sojourners Coffee & Tea at 1501 South Holly Street.

Kery Allen's "Buffalo Skull."
Kery Allen's "Buffalo Skull."
Kery Allen
Kery Allen's "Turquoise Dreams."
Kery Allen's "Turquoise Dreams."
Kery Allen
Kery Allen's "Elephant Skull."
Kery Allen's "Elephant Skull."
Kery Allen
Kery Allen's "Gorilla Skull."
Kery Allen's "Gorilla Skull."
Kery Allen

“The pieces at Sojourners are a good representation of my paintings,” says Allen. “Skulls are kind of a thing....I think they’re a representation of impermanence as well as beauty on the inside,” she explains, since the skull is “that sculpture that everything grows on.”

“I wanted to take that whole representation of the skull being scary, and make it into something that isn’t scary at all,” Allen continues. She loves Día de los Muertos celebrations, with their sugar skulls and joyful remembrances of something Westerners typically mourn.

Allen usually works with acrylics on canvas. “I like oils,” she adds. “They just stink up my studio.” Allen often incorporates college into her painting, too, using recycled images from magazines or old books or maps as a slate. She also uses embroidery, which she picked up from her grandmother, who was always experimenting with fiber art. “I grew up knitting and sewing, and I like adding that into paintings to give another textural dimension,” she says.

Look closely, and you’ll notice there’s more to some of Allen’s paintings than meets the eye. “I’m really drawn to different textures,” she explains, pointing to Gorilla Skull (above), a month-long project that involved Allen sewing directly onto her canvas.

Kery Allen's "The Bird and the Bee."
Kery Allen's "The Bird and the Bee."
Kery Allen
Kery Allen's "Black Stones on White Sand."
Kery Allen's "Black Stones on White Sand."
Kery Allen
Kery Allen's "Cactus Spines."
Kery Allen's "Cactus Spines."
Kery Allen

Some of her pieces “end up being super random,” she adds. And she likes that, because “people can find whatever meaning they want.” That makes those works particularly suited to non-gallery settings: “People at galleries want to know more about what’s behind the art," she concludes.

For more on Allen and her work, visit her website or follow her on Instagram

Kery Allen gathers inspiration.
Kery Allen gathers inspiration.
Photo courtesy of Kery Allen
From Kery Allen's sketchbook.
From Kery Allen's sketchbook.
Kery Allen

Follow Jamie Siebrase on Twitter.

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