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Dan Allen was an artist who took his life in 1974. 40 years later a museum discovered one of his paintings. This is his life story.
111 backers pledged $17,491 to help bring this project to life.

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Danny Allen, ca 1974, Acrylic on board. Collection of WTW.
Danny Allen, ca 1974, Acrylic on board. Collection of WTW.

An Early Work Late in Life is a memoir about an exceptionally talented young artist named Daniel Arthur Allen, and how one of his mysterious, little jewel-like paintings was rediscovered in the vault of a major museum: The Rochester Memorial Art Gallery (whose curatorial staff have requested that a copy of the manuscript to be kept with the painting).

I gave the painting to the museum when I was a very young man, as a posthumous gift in Danny Allen's memory after his suicide at age 28, in 1974. Nearly four decades later it is being included in a major museum exhibit titled It Came from the Vault, opening at the MAG on March 17, 2013. Additional examples are surfacing now that word of my book has reached people living in Rochester, New York. I am publishing through a Rochester self-publishing/ design firm called Denison Creative. As new work and information surface, the design fees and printing costs rise exponentially. The printing and binding costs are well beyond anything I'm able to budget for.

'Sunny Ducks' by Danny Allen - acrylic on board. Collection of the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery.
'Sunny Ducks' by Danny Allen - acrylic on board. Collection of the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery.

This project is very close to my heart, as Danny Allen was my partner and my lover, and remains the most transformative force in my own life both as a gay man and as an artist. Dan's curious little painting, Sunny Ducks was virtually unknown to the contemporary MAG museum staff, when it was uncovered by a student intern who became intrigued by it and launched a search to learn more about this unknown artist and his masterful work. Her search ultimately lead her to me, unlocking private memories within me I've rarely shared with anyone. I began to re-read my own journals from the period and felt compelled to open a secret portfolio case of Danny Allen's art that I have protected in a darkened space for decades.The costs of professionally photographing all his art was a larger and more expensive proposition than I ever expected.

Shadowbox assemblage by Danny Allen, from the collection of the late Ramon Martinez.
Shadowbox assemblage by Danny Allen, from the collection of the late Ramon Martinez.

Sadly an important collection of Dan's art was destroyed by a caretaker looking after a woman with Alzheimer's who owned some of his best pieces. The caretaker, not having an understanding of the art in her possession put it all out in the trash when the woman she was caring for needed to be placed in a nursing home. This has made it all the more important to save and document the remaining work in other collections.

Told through the lens of my own eye as an older man, An Early Work Late in Life takes place in the late 1960s and early 1970s during the awakening of the sexual revolution, gay liberation and the anti-war protests of the Vietnam era. Dan's and my story together is sometimes raucous and funny, but is ultimately a heartbreaking tribute to a wonderful, quirky and gentle young man who just might have been a little too good for this world, and believed he could move on to the next life on his own. http://anearlyworklateinlife.wordpress.com/.

Risks and challenges

I am determined to self-publish my book, as I've already had my weird commercial experiences with traditional publishers (largely as an illustrator) and know from experience that the publishing industry will not understand a book that is at once, a memoir that reads like a novella, but is also an art book with captioned color plates. It's a hybrid that is outside of the grasp of profit motivated mainstream marketing executives who are notorious for lacking imagination until after they see a successful and innovative project demonstrated by someone else.

I am a self-employed artist in my own right, and I have (partially) paid out of pocket for a professional editor and book designer, all of which has left me more than a little frightened over the costs I've already incurred, let alone the balances that will come due. That said, this book is my best chance to preserve the legacy of the most important person in my life, and perhaps even grant me something close to a sense of closure after four decades living in the memory of a shadow. I embarked on this project motivated by love--not by profit margins. That said, I don't want this endeavor to financially sink me, and I would greatly appreciate help in realizing this book.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Any amount you wish to donate will be greatly appreciated. From $1. to whatever amount you feel you can contribute.

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    A matted print of a piece of artwork by Danny Allen.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Signed first edition of the book, 'An Early Work Late in Life' by William Whiting, telling the story of Danny Allen (1946 - 1974) including a variety of color plates of Danny Allen's artwork.

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    Framed print of a piece of Danny Allen's artwork.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    An original 11" x 14" painting or portrait by William Whiting which can be done from a photo or image supplied by the donor.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    An original framed drawing by the late Danny Allen, ca 1970. A provenience sheet will be included with the art certifying it as a hand done artwork by Danny Allen.

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Funding period

- (29 days)