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 Linda Allen stands by a few of her recent “Cityscapes” paintings, which reflect the artist’s strong use of line and color. The paintings can be seen in a solo show by Allen  on display through Nov. 27 at  University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Linda Allen stands by a few of her recent “Cityscapes” paintings, which reflect the artist’s strong use of line and color. The paintings can be seen in a solo show by Allen on display through Nov. 27 at University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

Artist’s creative power evident in ‘Electric Eclectic’

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 12, 2019

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — The work of some artists can be easily identified because they use one medium and explore similar subject matter. Grosse Pointe City artist Linda Allen, however, prefers to mix it up — collage, watercolor pouring, acrylic, mixed media and photo transfers are just some of the mediums she’s explored, and she’s continuing to expand her creative horizons.

That range is on display at University Liggett School’s Manoogian Arts Wing, where Allen is the featured professional artist through Nov. 27. A public reception for her solo show will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 21.

“I’m calling the show ‘Electric Eclectic,’ because I’ve got different series I’ve done over the years,” Allen said. Selections from those series are among the works on display.

Born in Eastpointe, Allen grew up primarily in Mount Clemens, although her family spent a couple of years apiece in St. Louis, Missouri, and Middletown, New Jersey. Allen discovered her passion for making art in middle school, and an art class in high school sealed her fate.

“Then, I took everything (in art) I could take,” Allen said. “I loved it.”

When other kids were socializing during lunch hours and study halls, she said, she was creating art.

Allen studied art at several colleges and universities, eventually earning a Bachelor of Science degree in interior design with a fine arts background from Wayne State University. She worked in commercial design for about 15 years.

That background has served her well as an artist, enhancing her already keen sense of color and giving balance to her often somewhat abstract pieces.

Allen said she uses “a lot of lines” in her work.

“I think it’s how I look at things,” she explained. “There’s a lot of structure, and I utilize the line as a design element.”

Artist Susan Macdonald, of St. Clair Shores, a former director of the Grosse Pointe Art Center, said she’s known Allen for more than 20 years.

“During that time, I’ve seen how she has developed her artistic skills, how she has explored new areas of expression, how they have changed her work and herself, and how she has been influenced by her main mentor, (acclaimed Detroit) artist Charles McGee,” Macdonald said by email. “Linda is excited by and engaged with the world around her. She is open to the opportunities to reinterpret the sensory and visual data that bombards us all. She, however, has a unique way of reading that data and producing an uncommon and stunning result.”

Macdonald said Allen’s recent “Cityscapes” painting series — of which there are several in the ULS show — are prime examples of Allen’s growth and development.

“Just happening to look through a window covering and visualizing the world beyond, broken and distorted yet recognizable, she applied this vision to canvas in paint and has produced some of her finest, exceptional pieces of art,” Macdonald said by email. “I think I’m not alone in this assessment, for almost all of her ‘Cityscapes’ have sold before the paint has dried.”

A member of the Michigan Water Color Society, the Scarab Club and the Detroit Society of Women Painters and Sculptors, Allen has taught art workshops and won numerous awards. Besides multiple group shows, Allen’s work has been featured in several solo exhibitions, including one in 2014 at the Gaylord Area Council for the Arts and one in 2015-16 at the Boll Family YMCA in downtown Detroit. The ULS exhibition is her first solo show in the Grosse Pointes.

Every fall, the school invites four professional artists to exhibit in the gallery.

“It’s inspiring to the kids, to the faculty,” said Jennie Osman, a lower school visual arts teacher and curator of the Manoogian Arts Wing at ULS.

Osman said she invited Allen to have a show at the school because she loves her work.

“We keep using the word ‘eclectic’ (to describe the show),” Osman said, adding that “whimsical and colorful” are other accurate adjectives. “Just the use of so many different materials and the use of space with the hanging (mandalas) — I feel like her work was made for the gallery.”

Allen’s mandalas are made out of recycled postcards that she cuts into different shapes and patterns and forms in circles; the back side usually features another design, and the finished mandalas are connected to each other by string and suspended from the ceiling to give them movement. At ULS, a row of mandalas are suspended in front of a wall of windows; a radiator is just below them.

“I was so delighted they were by the radiator and they naturally move,” Allen said.

She said that she tried to place similar works together for the show. While they vary widely in material and theme, Allen’s use of strong, vibrant color ties everything together.

“I think of my color as being dynamic and powerful, not static,” Allen said. “It’s moving.”

University Liggett School is located at 1045 Cook Road in Grosse Pointe Woods. Besides the opening reception Nov. 21, the gallery is open to the public during school hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; visitors need to sign in at the school’s front office. Visitors can also make an appointment to see the exhibition.

For an appointment, call Jennie Osman at (313) 884-4444, ext. 317, or email her at