- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

Jane Addams Allen, the visual-arts critic for The Washington Times from its inception in 1982 through 1989, died Jan. 31 at St. Julia’s Hospice in Cornwall, England, after a long battle with cancer. She was 68.

Known for her graceful writing style, encyclopedic knowledge of art history and a gentle but firm approach to criticism, Miss Allen won numerous national journalism awards during her career.

Born in Chicago in 1935, Miss Allen received a master of fine arts degree from the University of Chicago and took her first newspaper job as art critic for the Chicago Tribune in the early 1970s. She left there to found the New Art Examiner with Derek Guthrie, with whom she collaborated on arts-reporting projects since 1971.

Together they built the Examiner from a slim newsletter to a national magazine covering trends in the art world. They moved to the District in 1980 to open an East Coast office of the Examiner, and within two years she had assumed the critic’s post at The Times.

She received such accolades as the 1980 National Endowment for the Arts Critics Award and the Manufacturers Hanover/Art World Award for Excellence in Art Criticism.

“In the presence of art, Jane Addams Allen grows luminous,” wrote Sophy Burnham in a 1987 Museum & Arts Washington profile. “Her writing has a sweetness and clarity. She is in love with art.”

“Jane wrote with such clarity and grace, avoiding all of the jargon of the art world,” said Hap Erstein, former Washington Times theater critic, who worked alongside Miss Allen. “She helped raise the level of arts criticism in the nation’s capital.”

Among the publications where Miss Allen’s work has appeared are The World & I, Art in America, American Craft and Studio International.

She lectured at Michigan State University, Carnegie Mellon University and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Miss Allen was the granddaughter of a University of Chicago professor of English, who was himself a nephew of social reformer Jane Addams, who built Hull House in the early 1900s and established the concept of settlement houses in the United States.

For the past decade, she had lived in Penzance, Cornwall, with Mr. Guthrie, whom she married in 1996 after living together since 1976.

During her time there, Miss Allen was involved in a successful campaign to save West Cornwall Hospital from closure.

She is survived by Mr. Guthrie and their daughter, Sarah.

The family requests that donations be made in her memory to St. Julia’s Hospice, Foundry Hill, Hayle, Cornwall TR27 4HW, England.

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