The Alchemist, Francis Tucker Memorial Art Show at the University of the Arts
Francis Courtland Tucker, The Alchemist, Exhibition of Paintings
Monday, November 4, 2013 to Friday, December 20, 2013, President’s Office Gallery Hamilton Hall The University of the Arts, 320 S Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19102
Opening Reception: Monday, November 4, 2013
Presidents Office Gallery
320 S Broad Street
The Alchemist refers to Tucker’s deep knowledge of the science of making art. He taught art students how to make their own gesso with rabbit skin glue, how to grind and make their own paints, how to stretch canvas, the chemistry of mixing painting mediums like oil and turpenoid, how to clean paint brushes, how to make frames and how to be an artist.
Tucker was a special friend to me since he was one of my first art professors at the Philadelphia College of Art back in the early 70s. I was working for the phone company during the day and taking art classes at night. One of my favorite memories of that time is when I took a painting class with him in the Atlantic Building on Broad Street. I carefully, laboriously sketched out my composition with pencil on the canvas. Tucker let me finish the drawing then came to me and began erasing away my drawing. I was in shock. He then punched me in the arm, kind of hard, and said, “This is a painting class!” A lesson I’ve never forgotten and often share with others.
Tucker permitted me to visit him on his death bed, he was curled in a fetal position with oxygen tubes tangled around him, and we talked about the old days of partying at PCA. He allowed, encouraged, us to drink wine and beer in night classes. He knew we were all workers and needed a little liquid relaxation to loosen up. Until one day we forgot to get rid of the empty wine bottles and we all got in trouble. In our last moments together he said he was so frustrated that he had finally felt he had mastered his art only to have his body fail on him.
When I was a young man he told me if I wanted to be an artist I had to dedicate myself to it no matter what. But I was making good money at a boring job, so, I tried to do both. Looking back I now understand his lesson: do what you love and the money will take care of itself. I miss you Tucker and think of you everyday as I walk past your home on Fitler Square with Katy the Art Dog.
Written by DoN Brewer. Photograph of Francis Tucker with his dog Slaughter provided by his daughter, Kathy Longwith.
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