Diane Allen: The Godmother of ArtistsLEFAIR
When you meet Diane Allen at her Brentwood mansion, you’re greeted by three giant desert tortoises and an array of exotic cars in the driveway. Diane is known as the “godmother of artists” for her strong desire to support and serve emerging artists. The local Angeleno lives in a home with art and furniture curated over years of traveling and collecting art and objects. Her 100-year-old mansion was the first home build in Brentwood, which she bought and restored with her late husband. Filled with art from emerging and known artists, her home is like a miniature museum of love, friendship, parties, and memories. Her personal collection is a mix of classics like Picasso, Warhol, Edward Ruscha, Matthew Brandt, Genevieve Gaignard, Tavares Strachan, Grant Levy-Lucero, Ugo Rondinone, and John Baldessari.
Over the years Diane has been working as a jeweler where she designed handmade jewelry including engagement rings for many celebrities. Her store, 23rd Street Jewelers, was even featured on the show Curb Your Enthusiasm. She best demonstrates her skills in the yearly Art vs Cancer fundraiser for Phase One LA, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting ground-breaking Phase I and Phase 2 cancer clinical research. For this event, Diane curates and discovers emerging and established artists. This year, 140 artists generously donated to Art vs Cancer which raised over seventy thousand dollars for clinical trials. Diane looks at art like treasure hunting, and this time she is sharing the treasures with all of us.
What motivated you to become an art collector?
I was an art major in college, but I dropped out after my professor thought I had a great eye but could not earn a living as an artist! A psychic told me at this same time that I would be in a three-dimensional art form, and soon after I discovered jewelry was my passion.
For my very first trip to Europe on my honeymoon, I found a Picasso print in a little art shop in Nice, and I had to have it. This was the beginning of my now extensive art collection.
Can you tell us more about Art vs Cancer?
I purchase a lot of art from emerging artists. Through these relationships, I have asked many of them to donate a painting, photograph, or sculpture to Art vs Cancer. The generosity was overwhelming this year from the artists, friends, and curators. I will be gearing up soon for the third edition of Art vs Cancer. The event is doubling in size every year. The money we raise goes directly to clinical trials with the very best cancer researchers at UCLA, City of Hope Children’s Hospital, and others through Phase One.
What is your life philosophy?
After my husband passed away six years ago, I recreated my live. I immediately connected to Phase One, funded a clinical trial on pancreatic cancer, and joined the Board of the VIA Art Fund and the Desert X biennial. I also started connecting to the young LA community and artists. I can be spotted at events like Burning Man and Coachella. I frequent downtown LA studios and dance parties. I decided to be of service for the next generation while being a role model for what fun looks like at any age.
Among the artists that donated to Art vs Cancer are Jimon, Olympio, Theodore Boyer, Daniel Dugan, Karen Bystedt, Amanda Flowers, Matt Smiley, Monica Perez, and many, many more.