L.A. Louver is pleased to present Juarez: Now and Then, a selection of drawings and prints by Terry Allen. Begun in the 1960s and continuing to this day, Juarez is described by Allen as a “haunting” and by others as the axis mundi of his practice. In its entirety, this expansive project consists of drawings, texts, constructions, poems, sketches, prints, watercolors, songs, a screenplay, multi-room installations, musical theater performances (one co-written by David Byrne), and an album accompanied by a suite of lithographs and texts, among other manifestations. In the artist’s words, Juarez “has probably instigated and/ or informed everything I’ve ever made.” Juarez revolves around a single plot: the imagined travels and travails of two couples – Jabo and Chic, Sailor and Alice – across the American West and its southern border. A surrealist corrido, Juarez is a series of escapades involving love, lust, mystery, and intrigue. These stories find footing in our reality through their visual and sonic expressions, which correspond to and complement one another through a shared chthonic tone and Southern Gothic aesthetic. Juarez is a demonstration not only of Allen’s polymathic sensibilities, but also of his creative identity as worldbuilder and storyteller. Juarez: Now and Then is an intimate presentation of Juarez works on paper from the past and present. One suite of drawings, displayed together here in a grouping of six, dates back to 1975 and acts as an introduction to the lexicon of Juarez. Dark and atmospheric, these colored pencil frames feature annotated pictorial allusions, seemingly non-sequitur, to the scene of a crime, a critical moment in the story of the two couples. It was in this same year, 1975, that Allen released the accompanying vinyl record for Juarez, a landmark creation acclaimed as one of the greatest of concept albums of all time. The notations on the drawings echo the narrative quality of Allen’s songs, providing a visual, referential bridge between the two forms. A selection of Juarez prints, originally released by the print workshop Landfall Press in 1975, also find space in this exhibition. These prints depict variations on the same scenes presented by the six drawings, differing at points in color and marked with unique notes, song lyrics, and other clues in the margins. Framed individually, these prints provide representations of the Juarez universe even in solitary display. It was these Landfall Press prints which were reproduced in the line notes of the 2016 re-release of the Juarez album by the record label Paradise of Bachelors.
In 2022, Nazraeli Press issued their own tribute to Juarez in a publication which reproduces, for the first time, Allen's lyrics alongside twelve new etchings. The etchings, made specifically for this publication, illustrate the continued expansion of the Juarez mythology. Revisiting previously explored visual forms and stories in black and white, the etchings feel as though Allen is experiencing these stories as personal memories. In relation to the earlier Juarez drawings which are colorful and illustrative, these most recent images evoke more sinister aspects of the story through harried, aggressive linework and heavy-handed shading. The Juarez etchings displayed in this presentation are available as a set, printed in a rare and limited edition of only 12 and sold with the deluxe edition of the Nazraeli Press book. In addition to the deluxe edition, Nazraeli Press has made their publication available in two other forms. The special edition is printed in an edition of 250, presented in a custom slipcase, and signed and numbered by Terry Allen. The first edition of the book, limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies, is available for purchase at L.A. Louver.
The artist and musician Terry Allen was raised in Lubbock, Texas, and graduated from Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, California. He has received numerous awards and honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship and National Endowment for the Art Fellowships. Allen's work can be found in private and public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the L.A. County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, and the Houston Museum of Fine Art, among many others. The leader of Terry Allen & the Panhandle Mystery Band, Allen has played a diversity of venues and festivals, including recently Wilco's Solid Sound Festival and the Luck Reunion hosted by Willie Nelson. Allen's songs have been recorded by the likes of Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen, David Byrne, Ricky Nelson, Lucinda Williams, and many other notable names.