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Jet Set Saturdays: Bale Creek Allen and James Hill at Solway Jones


Bale Creek Allen. Brown Tumbleweed #30, 2009. Unique cast bronze and hand welded with bronze with patina. 32 x 34 x 32 inches.

“By a fountain back in Rome
I fell in love with you
In a small cafe in Athens
You said you loved me too.  And it was April in Paris when I first held you close to me. Rome, Georgia Athens, Texas
and Paris, Tennessee. No we’re not the jet set. 
We’re the old Chevrolet set. 
There’s no Riviera
in Festus, Missouri. And  you won’t find Onasis
in Mullinville, Kansas. 
No, we’re not the jet set. 
We’re the old Chevrolet set.

But ain’t we got love?”

- – Tammy Wynette & George Jones
 (Bobby Braddock)

The Bale Creek Allen sculptures at Solway Jones remind this Jet-Setter of why Texans are just so much bigger than life. Allen’s remarkable show has just enough grace and hee-haw to position his work in the same class as Rosson Crowe’s paintings. The sculptures that dominate the show are bronze tumbleweeds – yes, actual tumbleweeds folks! – each branch delicately welded and coated in nickel, 18 karat-gold or sterling silver. These elegant sculptures sit casually cocksure in their off-kilter glory; their forms so deliberately realistic that they hover just above the surface of normalcy like moissanite or fool’s gold. The only real giveaway that these are sculptures – opposed to the real thing – is the temperature of the metal. Touching one of his pieces is as exciting as petting in the back of a classic car on a deserted highway deep in the heart of Texas (without the requisite shotgun and beer, of course) and not just because one typically shouldn’t get physical with work. Just as alluring are Allen’s cast tire treads and sculptures of gold-dipped link chains with tire treads attached. These are the Texas version of ghetto fabulosity, their links the size of one’s palm.


Bale Creek Allen. Traditional Gator Tread, 2005. Unique cast bronze gator tread. 10 x 72 x 3 inches.

Musician and artist David Byrne, who has known Allen for 20 years, stated, “…not only does Bale see his life made of fiddles, ice cream, tire treads, and tumbleweeds, but he accepts that, loves it, and has found a way to use and combine those materials.


James Hill. Some of Everywhere, 2009. Ink on aluminum. 24 x 40 inches.

Balancing Allen’s negotiation of his rugged constitution and precise construction are James Hill’s collages on aluminum, a process that provides an appropriately post-modern backdrop to Allen’s romantic sculptural forms. Hill’s photo process, with its revealing half tones and accidental juxtaposing of images is a sort of mash-up of Man Ray and Andy Warhol. His pieces, printed on supports similar to freeway signs, operate as markers without destinations leading one down that “lost highway” or perhaps “drifting a long like a tumbling tumbleweed.”

So much for mixing metaphors along with my Texas Tea; this writer is off to find her own Rhinestone Cowboy at the Pasadena Jewelry Mart. Yee Haw!

Bale Creek Allen and James Hill is on view at Solway Jones until January 10th, 2010 at 990 N. Hill Street #180, Los Angeles, CA 90012. For more information please visit

This post was contributed by Mary Anna Pomonis.


  • Richard Haden

    I like the tumble weed metaphor for drifting. As well I like how Bale Creek Allen speaks through the semiprecious nature of cast bronze—to comment—perhaps— it can be read as a conversation on the nature of letting go of ones roots. In order to find ourselves and home we have to branch out in time and space…In doing so we read another account of how we find closeness and home by taking up the anxious travel on the plains of self exile…all the while looking for the home nearest ourself. Whether it is art works drifting through collections or tumbling through the Texas prairie the significance of drifting is a reminder that time is well spent looking around as a contemporary high plains drifter… What better way to understand the world and “others” than by drifting….

    Allen’s work reminds me of a compact Roxy Paine, who we might read in reverse to Allen. Roxy Paine instead of drifting, plants his rooted stainless steel trees much more like the aspen rooted [Rhizome]. The roots travel horizontally underground and pop up in different geographical locals. As is described by Gilles Deluze as Univosity (Deluze’s take on Spinoza’s Rhizome)

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Jet Set Saturdays: Bale Creek Allen and James Hill at Solway Jones