You've got to love a guy who says (with unmalicious idealism) that if all the showplaces and writers disappeared, there'd still be art. In the case of his raucous, poignant art, Terry Allen is right. Allen is a poet, musician, performance artist and maker of gripping tableaux dealing with the psycho-social fallout of Vietnam. For six years he's been making multimedia pieces collectively called "Youth in Asia." A stunning show of recent works from the series exposes and mourns a post-Vietnam, Me Generation America numbed by TV cliches, gratuitous violence and dispassionate sex. Allen plays silliness against sadism, fact against fantasy, seamlessly stringing together nihilistic prose, tidbits of kitsch, stuffed birds and rodents, tufts of hair and velvety charcoaled expanses borrowed from memories of his native Texan soil.
In one work a Popsicle-hued Disney Dumbo turned upside down is framed next to a strange shelter. Embossed in metal are John Lee Hooker's blues lyrics, "You gotta let that boy be a man." The hapless pachyderm and a mysterious open door convey lost innocence instead of coming of age. "The Creature" is a rich, erotic piece about sexual and political power plays made from raunchy one liners, a vixeny Tinker Bell, a phallic-looking snake tail and random words in Spanish and Vietnamese. With its three panels echoing a church altarpiece, "Fall of Amarillo" sets up a view of tidy suburban bliss only to render it--like religion--just another mystique-gone-sour.