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An example of work by Allan Winkler
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
Kansas City Star 2009
"A whacked-out, cut-out world, brought to you by artist Allan Winkler"
By ELISABETH KIRSCH
Special to The Star
It’s Allan Winkler’s planet, and the rest of us are just living on it.
Fortunately, it’s a whacked-out, fun place to be, and often quite
San Franciscans found that out in the 1970s, when Winkler received an
Art in Public Places grant to transform the display windows of an
abandoned building at Market Street and Fifth.
What was to be a three-week installation on one of the busiest streets
in San Francisco turned into a three-year phenomenon, as Winkler’s
hand-painted landscapes, giant papier-mâché animals and plants, and
life-sized ceramic people and monsters gradually took over an entire
city block. He got lots of newspaper coverage, while passersby
contributed gifts and letters (including one signed “Madonna”).
Many in Kansas City are familiar with the 55-year-old artist’s metal
and paper cut-outs, which have hung through the years in such
restaurants as Venue and Shiraz (both now, unfortunately, defunct), as
well as in community centers and other public places. His calendars
have sold at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and his T-shirts at the
Reading Reptile bookstore.
And people regularly drive by his house on the West Side, with its
code-breaking assortment of bottles and artworks that sprawl on the
front porch and beyond.
But even if you think you know Winkler’s immediately recognizable art,
his latest exhibition of new work at the Epsten Gallery in Village
Shalom is a marvelous installation with some real surprises. It’s as if
this seasoned veteran has gotten a second wind and has risen to a new
level of inventiveness.
Which is saying something.
In many cases Winkler has upped the scale of his work, to great
effect. Five-feet-tall collaged heads made from boxes of consumer
products hover on one wall, and in that scale their wide-open eyes have
a trace of menace that adds to the overall intensity of the art.
Winkler has always been a master paper-cutter, but for the first time
he is making cutouts in a variety of colors, and Epsten Gallery curator
Marcus Cain has done a superb job assembling a mural-sized grid of
multicolored faces, moons, animals and abstract forms together,
creating a mosaic of pure energy.
On some of Winkler’s newest cutouts, different colors of paper are
layered together and then cut open to form three-dimensional starbursts
of various sizes. These forms could be flower petals, or they could be
bullet holes; Winkler always manages to keep his work from being
saccharine, which is what gives it staying power.
Another gallery wall is covered entirely with metal cut-outs of people
and animals on objects ranging from mailboxes and cans to wheelbarrows.
Once again, as inviting as these creations are, more than a few have
teeth that resemble fangs.
Three paper collages of double-headed men lined up next to one another
are a mesmerizing ensemble, but one wonders if they haven’t all been
institutionalized for some bizarre disorder.
Winkler has a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Kansas City Art
Institute and has received numerous grants and commissions over the
years. He also has been an artist-in-residence at various schools and
has taught kindergarteners as well as university students. He is an
accomplished drummer who plays with various bands.
Still, his work is distinguished by a genuine outsider art quality.
Artist Garry Noland, who curated an exhibit of Winkler’s work 10 years
ago at the Writers Place in Kansas City, observes: “I can’t tell if
Allan is a naive sophisticate or a sophisticated naif.”
Winkler grew up in Chicago.
“In high school I was a real outsider and a horrible student,” he said in a recent interview. “I got straight F’s.”
His childhood, he said, had been difficult.
“At 5 I had an undiagnosed illness that caused me to lose weight,” he said. “I would pass out and hallucinate.”
His father — “not a nice man” — was a brassiere salesman who stashed
mannequins wearing bras all over the house, Winkler said. His mother
sold motorcycles, and there were visits from Hell’s Angels. At 14, he
lived in Berkeley during the Bay Area’s notorious 1967 Summer of Love.
Fortunately, Winkler’s high school English teacher, Richard Gragg,
liked him enough that he arranged for the art department to give the
failing student a big, empty room with a potter’s wheel where he could
do what he wanted.
“The only stipulation,” Winkler recalls, “was that I had to have
exhibits in the windows.” Winkler taught himself to make ceramics and
produced batches of drawings. “At least I got D’s after that,” he says.
“They finally just let me graduate.”
During his senior year, scouts from the Kansas City Art Institute saw
his “art room” and offered him a scholarship. He moved here. At
KCAI, he wheedled his way out of the Foundations Department to move to
the legendary ceramics department under Ken Ferguson.
Winkler excelled there, but as Ferguson wrote in an exhibition catalog
in 1983 that featured Winkler’s work, “I never knew what to do with
Allan. He worked a lot — was easy to talk to and we let him make
what he wanted. The hand-built figures were so wonderful I saw no
reason to give him assignments. He loved his work and he enjoyed
making his ‘friends.’ ”
Besides ceramics, Winkler wanted to work in a variety of media. Upon graduating, he made an animated film, “Stars and Dews and Dreams of Night,”
which features his paper cutouts. It is a truly marvelous mix of
whimsy and surrealism, for which he received a grant from the National
Endowment for the Arts.
Since then, Winkler has worked in textiles and glass, as well as paper
and metal. He is a serious student of folk art and lived briefly
with the renowned Rev. Howard Finster.
Now Winkler has a family with Leslie Neff, who is a teacher, and two children, Emma, 16, and Eli, 13.
“Originally, (with my art) I was creating friends and family for myself
because it wasn’t really working in real life. Now I have this
wonderful family. And can you believe it — both my kids are
getting straight A’s.”
|Biography from P&M ARTWORKS:|
|Allan Winkler’s talents flow from a deep and winding river source,
whose branches seem to have no limit. Besides cutting paper and metal
images, he is a ceramic sculptor, a painter, a quilt maker, a clothes
designer, a batik artist. |
He has played drums for jazz groups and rock-and-roll bands, acted in
plays, made prize-winning films and videotapes, taught art in college,
written articles and lengthy literary journals.
2009 ALLAN WINKLER: FRESH CUTS paper and metal cut-outs, Kansas City Jewish Museum – Epsten Gallery
2009 ALLAN WINKLER – NEW YORK, Blueblue Café and Bistro
2009 PICNIC ON ART ISLAND: in the studio of ALLAN WINKLER, Presented by CARA & CABEZAS CONTEMPORARY
2006 ALLAN WINKLER: RECENT METAL CUT OUTS, Shiraz Restaurant, Kansas City, Missouri
2005 Allan Winkler: a Retrospective Pi Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
2003 Consumer Portraits, Chiro Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
2000 Allan Winkler, Dodge City Community College
1999 Jewish Community Center Gallery, Overland Park, Kansas
1997 Joanne Rapp Gallery – The Hand and the Spirit, Scottsdale, Arizona
1992 San Jose State University, San Jose, California
1990 University of North Alabama, Florence, Alabama
1990 The Alaska State Museum, Juneau, Alaska
1989 Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1989 Allan Winkler’s Metal Cut Outs, Pro Art Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri
1989 Allan Winkler’s Paper Cut Outs, Chicago Public Library Cultural Center
1988 Allan Winkler: Recent Ceramics, Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco, C
1988 Allan Winkler, New Work, Leedy-Voulkos Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
1987 Allan Winkler: Clay, Paper Cuts, Paintings, Objects Gallery, Chicago
1986 St. Louis Design Center, curated by Pro Arts Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri
1985 Allan Winkler: Recent Art, Objects Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1985 Allan Winkler, Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco, California
2009 “Eyes of the World” Paragraph Gallery, Urban Culture Project, Kansas City, Missouri
Telephonebooth Invitational “the 2009 Summer Salon”
“cifras de muchos mondos” Kansas City, Missouri
2009 Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, Nebraska, art auction
2009 UrbanSuburban, Kansas City Jewish Musueum, Epsten Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
Rock, Paper, Scissors….Allan Winkler, Mark Pharis, Andrew
Martin, Pottery Northwest, Seattle, Washington
2006 “How Did I Get Here?” Elastic Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
2005 UrbanSuburban, Kansas City Jewish Museum, Epsten Gallery
2004 “Declare Yourself” Pi Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
“We Buy Art” Urban Culture Project, the Bank Gallery,
selections from 6 Kansas City Collectors: Bruce Bettinger,
Dr. Loretta Britton, Todd and Carol Haenisch, John Holland, Anne
Winter, Tonya Witmer & Ben Hansen
2005 Kansas City Flatfile Show, H & R Block Artspace, Kansas City Art Institute
2004 Paper Cuts: The Art of Contemporary Paper, traveling exhibit, Exhibits USA
“The Art of Aging” traveling exhibit organized by Hebrew
Union College Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, New York City,
curator, Laura Kruger
2003 “Ceremony In The Dessert” Sylvia Plotkin Judaica Museum of Temple Beth Israel, Scottsdale, Arizona
2003 “30 Years of the Archie Bray Foundation” Halter Museum of Art, Helena, Montana, Traveling Exhibit
2003 “Mary Jo Dawson & Allan Winkler” Dawson Gallery, Indianapolis, Indiana
2001 Kansas City Flatfile, Pierogi Flatfiles, H&R Block Artspace, Kansas City
1996 Lill Street Art Center Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1996 Ann Nathan Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1995 Joanne Rapp Gallery – The Hand and the Spirit, Scottsdale, Arizona
1995 Mia Gallery, Seattle, Washington
1994 Ceramic Group Show, Ricciardi Gallery, Astoria, Oregon
1994 Leedy-Voulkos Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri
1993 “The Legacy of the Archie Bray Foundation” Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, Washington
1992 Dorothy Weiss Gallery, San Francisco, California
1991 Bumbershoot Arts Festival, “The Artist In The Art” Seattle, Washington
1991 “Close To The Bone: The Day of the Dead Ceremony” Pro Art Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri
1990 “The Playful Object” Objects Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
1987 “Urgent Messages” Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, Illinois
1985 Helen Drutt Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1984 Heath Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia
1983 “Distinguished Alumni Ceramic Show” Kemper Gallery, Kansas City Art Institute
1982 “Imbued Clay Figures” Mills College Art Gallery, Oakland, California
1975 Group ceramic show, Fairtree Gallery, New York City
1974 “David Dumlap, David Saunders, Allan Winkler” Kansas City Art Institute
1973 “Kathy Marchant, Stan Welsh, Allan Winkler” Kansas City Art Institute
1985-1886 Alternative Worksite: Bemis Foundation, Omaha, Nebraska, one year residency
1979-1980 Fort Mason Art Center, studied Batik, and Art Business, San Francisco
1978 University of Utah Summer Art Institute, Snowbird, Utah
1977-1978 Archie Bray Foundation, one year ceramic residence, Helena, Montana
1971-1975 Kansas City Art Institute, B.F.A. Ceramics, Kansas City, Missouri
1972 Art Institute of Chicago, Printmaking Class
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