Best of Phoenix

Artist Michael Allen Listens to the Blues

Best of Phoenix hits newsstands today. In conjunction with this year's Vintage Phoenix theme, New Times is collaborating with R. Pela Contemporary Art to present "Hot Plate!" It's an exhibition of one-of-a-kind, Phoenix-inspired commemorative plates made by local artists. Leading up to the show's Oct. 4 opening, we're profiling each of the contributing artists and visiting their studios. Today: Michael Allen.

Artist Michael Allen creates his art through oil, collage, or installation. Much of his inspiration is drawn from music, specifically the blues.

See also: Hot Plate! Best of Phoenix Commemorative Collaboration Opens Oct. 4 at R. Pela Gallery

Not only does he collect old instruments for his art, but he has studied the blues for 20 years. His inspiration comes from pre-war Delta Blues, which he has worked hard to research and interpret.

Working with, listening to, and even participating with bluesmen, musicians, promoters, and supporters is what fuels his artistic will. The influence that this music has on Allen is apparent through his paintings and collage work. The artist also enjoys working from his studio, where his schedule is open and he can work on his own time.

What's your earliest memory of Phoenix? I think my Grandfather was one of the original "Snowbirds." Drove his Nash Rambler from the Great Midwest to Arizona. Would bring back Kachina dolls and bow & arrow souvenirs. Had a girlfriend in Tucson named Julia. Had a saying, "Don't let Julia fool ya".

What inspired your plate for this show? My inspiration was immediate. "Hot Plate" is a cover plate for dobro/resonator style guitars. I collect old guitars and instruments mainly for props in my paintings portraying early acoustic blues, country, folk & roots representation.

Phoenix needs more: FREE cultural events.

Phoenix needs less: Pavement and waterfalls/fountains.

What's on your plate this fall? Dia de las Muertas, travel, studio time.

See Allen's work when "Hot Plate!" opens October 4 at R. Pela Contemporary Art.

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Alexandria Conrad