New York artist Meredith Allen (pictured, left) died of cancer yesterday, March 17. As an artist and chronicler, Allen was a familiar face on the Williamsburg art scene in the 1990s, with her longtime partner and fellow artist Carol Saft always at her side.
The trappings of childhood often factored in to Allen’s art photography. Her best-known photos are from her “Melting Ice Pops” series (1999–2006), colorful images of misshapen, dripping cartoon frozen treats held up against beaches or countryside backgrounds with cerulean skies, just as the blue marshmallow bunny was in Sugar Tales (2000/06). The photos in her “Kiddie Rides” series (1995–2002) are surreal “portraits” of the coin-operated machines often found in front of grocery stores; she gave a similar treatment to the figure displays at mini-golf courses. And “Forever” (2003/05) featured images of plush animals sealed in plastic bags. More recently she had been working on the lush abstract “Trash” series.
Allen, low-key and amiable, regularly photographed people at openings for the Art Seen column in the now defunct Waterfront Weekly. It was, as dealer Edward Winkleman says in his blog post about Allen, “W-burg’s version of the society page, and one of the only consistent pictorial archives of the scene at that time.” She amassed hundreds of photos, many of which have been published in 27 “visual diaries,” as she called them (available at blurb.com).
Allen was born and raised in Bangor, Maine. She studied art at the Hartford Art School in Connecticut and earned her MFA in photography at the University of Buffalo. She exhibited in numerous group shows and had solo shows in Manhattan at Edward Thorp (2008) and Gracie Mansion (2001), and in Brooklyn at Sarah Bowen (2005) and Flipside (2000), among others.
Allen is also survived by her dog Iggy, who features in a number of her works, including the 2005 series “People I Meet When I Walk My Dog.” Like her other visual diaries, it reveals the appreciation Allen had for the people around her and life’s small but poignant moments.
LEFT: MONTAUK AVENUE (SMILE), 1999.