Trained as a teacher, she began her fine art career at Hill's Gallery and then Janus Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before opening her own space, LewAllen Contemporary, in 1987. In 1994, she moved the gallery to its current location, a 10,000-square-foot, two-story space on Palace Ave. She maintained a lively program of more than 30 exhibitions per year by such established artists as Wayne Thiebaud, Elaine de Kooning, Robert Colescott, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, Judy Chicago and Hung Liu, as well as numerous emerging artists.
The Arlene LewAllen Arts Endowment has been established at the Santa Fe Community Foundation to support visual artists and art activities for children. Denise Kusel, author of Only in Santa Fe (2005), writes that Arlene LewAllen, by the time she died, "had become synonymous with art in Santa Fe." [p.42]