Artist of the Week 11
Allison B. Cooke
Allison B. Cooke’s paintings celebrate the interplay of past and present, imagined and tangible, that which is lost and what remains. Allison has always been drawn to the physicality and evidence of transformation as a unique presence in the passage of time. Of particular interest to Allison are the patinas that build up where architectural structures and atmospheric effects coalesce.
Surfaces with a built-up history of shifting colors and mark-making, whether random or intentional, carry the visual and poetic resonance Allison seeks in her paintings. While the fragments of ancient walls and fading frescoes in Italy are a particular favorite, moments from her everyday life are often just as influential. The ever-malleable nature of layered paint and its unpredictable qualities simulates the changing nature of experience and is conducive to the creation of her open-ended abstract works.
Allison B. Cooke was born in Midwest City, Oklahoma. She spent most of her childhood living on the east coast before moving to Wisconsin in 1970. Allison holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Drawing and Painting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She currently works out of a studio in the Lincoln Warehouse next to the Kinnickinnic River in Milwaukee.
One of the most prevalent and compelling influences in Allison’s work originates from spending the last twelve years in Florence, Italy teaching in the summer at the Santa Reparata International School of Art. While there, she encounters an abundant palimpsest within the juxtaposed kaleidoscope of imagery. She finds inspiration in the aging architecture, time-worn paintings and sculptures, and other world-class art treasures existing side-by-side with realities of present-day street culture.
These overlaps, intertwined with memory and invention, continue to inspire ideas when Allison returns to Milwaukee. However, she constantly seeks influences in other unexpected places. Wherever they may be, she is drawn to the stories suggested, but sometimes overlooked, in both urban and natural environments.
Allison finds pleasure in the experimental nature of mixed media combinations and thrives on unfamiliarity when making an image. Most of her paintings are made on a braced panel with oil paint, beeswax, and other things such as powdered marble, dry pigment, gold leaf, and various drawing tools. The process includes adding and subtracting paint, excavating, scraping, printing onto the surface and improvisational calligraphic mark making.
The presence of Allison’s drawn and written marks sometimes reference the ideas found in Asemic or illegible writing. At other times, these marks read more as abstract drawings executed in an unpredictable manner. This approach to painting seeks connections between recognition and suggestion, specificity and chance. Ultimately, Allison is interested in creating works that evoke materiality and meaning from a free-spirited studio practice- with no preconceived notions of what may happen.
Allison has had an extensive national exhibition record spanning over three decades. She is in permanent art collections in Germany, Japan, India and Ireland and was invited to join an international group of artists in a collaborative traveling exhibition project called “The Drawing Box.” Allison exhibited her mixed media drawings with these artists in Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In December 2015, she participated in a group invitational painting exhibition called “Kunst is/Art is” in Kunstraum, Germany.
Contact Lily Pad Gallery West for information on pricing and to view additional works by Allison B. Cooke.
To learn more about Allison B. Cooke, and view her expanded portfolio, visit her website: