A series of pits dug into the earth and filled with smashed pots are powerful testaments to the demand for accuracy and quality that the artist, Richard Tuck, required of himself. His classic training and high standards compelled Tuck to destroy the pieces that weren’t up to snuff. “He never wanted a piece to exist that wasn’t perfect,” says his wife, Barbara.
Barbara Tuck and her husband thought they would grow old together. They moved through life as bonded companions, deeply in love and savoring the subtle details of their many adventures together. Both artists, Barbara also a teacher and Richard an accomplished potter, lived lives that revolved around their grounding in Christianity and celebration of the human spirit through the creation of art.
Set up to enjoy the next chapter in life, the Tucks had no idea what was about to come. There was no sign of the cancer that grew inside of Tuck’s brain until it was too late. One day an unusual fall off his bicycle sent Richard to the doctor with a list of questions to which the answers were, to put it lightly, a kick in the gut. A tumor in Tuck’s brain had interfered with his large motor skills, and he was given six short months to live. Tuck has since passed on, but his work still brings life to those it reaches, and under the careful, curative eye and commitment of his wife, his work will be cherished well into the future.
Throughout the Tuck home are vessels, small and large, filled with rocks, seeds, nuts and bits of driftwood all collected during walks and vacations after being noticed by a watchful eye and selected for their interesting texture or shape. Each object invites a visitor to pick it up, to engage in a tactile experience, and take note of the wonders of nature. Each example of Tuck’s work reflects his love of nature and our world.
When picking up a piece of his work, in this case a red bowl streaked by a splash of ecru, one instantly feels the accuracy of Tuck’s hand. His control and consistency of pressure are almost shocking; there are no ridges, no detectable movement from thick to thin. His pieces are surprisingly lightweight, as Tuck was able to achieve structural soundness without relying on the heavy body of the clay.
A quick peek at the underbelly of one of Tuck’s pieces reveals that no detail was left unattended. Each foot, or base, is finely tooled and finished off with an equally meticulous arrangement of tiny felt pieces, placed as a final touch with as much care and precision as was used in the creation of the vessel itself.
Attention to detail and focus on the classic elements and principals of art and design were poured into Tuck’s head at the Fort Wayne Art Institute. Tuck might also have credited the school for bringing his wife into his life. Attracted by a foot that poked out from behind a corner as she sat to draw, Tuck stepped around the wall to take a look.
“It was love at first sight,” says Mrs. Tuck, who stood by Tuck and supported his career from beginning to end. As a high school art teacher, she was able to support Tuck as a studio artist as he developed his craft and gathered footing in the art market. At that time he was interested in both sculpture and pottery.
“It wasn’t long before he came over to my class at the high school where he demonstrated on the wheel. It was like choosing between two loves; he couldn’t decide on pottery or sculpture,” says Mrs. Tuck. “When I came home that night he said he had found what he wanted to throw himself into for his life’s work.”
After her husband’s death, she made her life’s focus the preservation of her husband’s legacy. In the basement level of the Tuck home, a wedging board paired with a splash guard sits, still streaked by a line of clay bursts that seem to have just blasted off of the artist’s turning wheel. Mrs. Tuck has systematically made record of the space by photographing the setup as arranged by Tuck and by preserving his tools and materials. She is also determined to keep the spirit of the place alive. A children’s art table, used by young artists from the neighborhood and family, sits in the center of the floor where the potter’s wheel once dominated. Also gone are the tools and clay barrels that had lined the back wall.
“Each one weighed hundreds of pounds, so moving those was quite an ordeal,” says Barbara, who considers the hard work an honor to fulfill.
Just off of the throwing space is another room devoted to supporting the artist’s creative mind. It is an extremely organized space.
“He had to stay organized because he had so many talents,” says Mrs. Tuck. “He could paint, draw and did photography,” she says, holding up examples of his black and white city vignettes. In the closet is a lineup of categorized manila envelopes holding thousands of templates used during glazing, each an original design and cut by hand. Brushes are sorted and placed in shiny metal cans. An army of portfolios, each one the same size and color, stands neatly on the floor, all filled with graph paper and drawings made up of crisp, clean lines.
“His neatness references his classic mentality, but he wasn’t a really uptight person at all. His thinking was very open and free,” explains Barbara. “Richard produced hundreds of sketches before a new idea was produced.”
Tuck’s sketching was a direct reflection of his life experiences. He and his wife enjoyed many road trips together, and Barbara now realizes how important these trips were to her husband’s creative development.
“We traveled across country at least three times. His mind was like a sponge. Everything he saw he absorbed. He was a very quiet person. He didn’t even sketch while we were out on the road. He came home and then he would sketch and let the ideas come out. Now that I look back I realize how much he was absorbing.”
The designs Tuck developed to decorate his pottery are the result of his witness and interpretation of the cultures that make up our country. While he was attracted to many cultures, his designs were his own creation. Barbara explains of her husband’s process, “There is only a flavor of culture, nothing specific.”
Along with culture, the Tucks were interested in exploring religion. Both were intrigued by how other cultures interpret a personal belief in God.
“He had a spiritual element to all of his work,” says Barbara. “The bedrock of his work was the desire to communicate the spirituality that we all have within us and the human desire to discover our purpose.”
Mrs. Tuck takes her new purpose in life seriously, always following the standards and requirements that her husband had for his work. Sometimes the task of carrying out his wishes can be heart-wrenching. After Richard’s death, Barbara was faced with a body of work, frozen in all phases of production; the cancer stopped many pieces short of completion. The greenware (unfired, raw clay pieces) was taken to the woods and gifted back to the earth by gentle rains. The bisqueware, work that had been fired once and hardened to a permanent state, required Barbara to face the brutal reality of her loss. She was tasked with taking a hammer to each piece, coming down with destructive force onto each signature, simultaneously smashing it and also protecting the integrity of her husband’s work. “When the tears would roll, I’d stop for the day,” she says.
What remains is a depleting supply of Tuck’s finest work. The demand for his pieces is up, says Barbara.
“Works that hadn’t sold in years are now selling because he is gone,” she says.
His work is still housed by several area galleries, including the Orchard Gallery, Crestwood Gallery and Castle Gallery. The Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana Art in Lafayette, Indiana recently honored Tuck as one of Indiana’s notable potters. It was a turn of events that took Barbara’s breath away.
“Everything that God created on the earth was manifested in all of creation. That’s what he liked to celebrate in his work,” she says. “The colors, the shapes and forms in nature, he hoped it would help people realize that we are all connected in these subtle ways. He was a quiet man who spoke volumes through his work. Blessings are shouting and I am immersed in the joy received by supporting him, even after he has left this earth.”
Friday, April 28
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Click header for complete Things To Do calendar
Concordia Comedy Festival — Concordia Lutheran High School presents a showing of comedy films from middle and high school students, 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, Room 101, Neff Hall, IPFW, Fort Wayne, free, 483-1102
Tapestry: A Day for You — Day of inspiration, renewal and education for women in all stages of life with keynote speaker Ann Curry, 7:30 a.m. Friday, April 28, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, $75, 483-1111
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Blooze Faktor — Blues at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., cover, 483-1311
Chris Worth & Company — Variety at Arena Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 557-1563
Classic Voice — Variety at The Venice Restaurant, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, (260) 482-1618
Cougar Hunter — 80s glam rock at The Venue, Angola, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, 665-3922
Expanding Man — Variety at Club Soda, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-3442
G-Money Band — Blues at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Hubie Ashcraft & Travis Gow — Country at Billy's Downtown Zulu, Monroeville, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 623-3583
The Illegals — Rock at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 483-5526
IPFW Bands & Choirs w/Fort Wayne Children's Choir — Classical at Auer Performance Hall, Rhinehart Music Center, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $4-$7, 481-6555
Joe Stabelli — Jazz at Don Hall's Gas House, Fort Wayne, 5:45-9 p.m., no cover, 426-3411
John Curran & Renegade — Country at American Legion Post 241, Waynedale, 8:30-11:30 p.m., no cover, 747-7851
Kat Bowser — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
Rebecca Rego — Americana/country at Two-EE's Winery, Huntington, 7:30-9:30 p.m., no cover, 672-2000
Secret Mezzanine — Variety at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 432-8966
String Theory — Acoustic variety at Friendly Fox, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8:30 p.m., no cover, 260-745-3369
Todd Harrold & Nick Bobay Duo — R&B/blues/variety at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 422-5896
Trichotomous Hippopotamus w/Trackless, John Fishell — Rock at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., cover, 267-5303
The Why Store — Rock at Mitchell's Sports Bar & Neighborhood Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, (260) 387-5063
Click header for complete Karaoke & DJs calendar
Big Dawg Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Bucca Karaoke w/Ashley — Variety at Tower Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-6310
Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Karaoke at Pine Valley Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., no cover, 490-9464
Dance Party w/DJ Rich — Variety at Columbia Street West, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., cover, 422-5055
DJ dance party — at Rum Runners, Fort Wayne, 8:30 p.m., ,
DJ Shawn — Karaoke/variety at Club Paradise, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 833-7082
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Variety at Tap Haus, New Haven, 9 p.m., no cover, 493-6622
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Jay — Variety at Coconutz @ Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Scott — Variety at JR's Pub, Leo, 9 p.m., no cover, 627-2500
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., ,
House DJ — Variety at Early Bird's Ultra Lounge, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 483-1979
House DJ — Variety at Flashback on the Landing, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., cover, 422-5292
Karaoke w/DJ Chuck — Variety at DW Bar & Grill, Churubusco, 10 p.m., no cover, 693-8172
Karaoke with Rooster — Variety at Portside Pizza, Columbia City, 9 p.m., no cover, 691-3333
Karaoke — Variety at Coconutz @ Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 9-11 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Karaoke — Variety at Hamilton House, Hamilton, 9 p.m., no cover, 488-3344
Karaoke — Variety at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 625-1002
Karaoke — Karaoke at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Karaoke — Variety at Crooner's Karaoke Bar, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., no cover, 486-1979
Rockstar Karaoke & DJ w/Scotty — Karaoke at Backway Lounge, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 665-5081
Shooting Star Prod. w/Barbie — Variety at Uncle Lou's Steel Mill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-5787
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ — Karaoke at 4 Crowns, Auburn, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., no cover, 925-9805
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ w/Kevin — Variety at Danny's Italian Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 484-4444
SureShot Karaoke w/David — Variety at The Green Frog Inn, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 426-1088
Three Rivers Karaoke — at Bottle and Bottega, Fort Wayne, 8:30-10:30 p.m., no cover, 494-1020
Click header for complete Stage & Dance calendar
Funny Little Thing Called Love — Romantic comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Home and Jamie Wooten, 7 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. curtain, Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 and May 5-6 and May 12-13, Arena Dinner Theatre, Fort Wayne, $40 (includes dinner & show), 424-5622
The Little Mermaid — Fort Wayne Civic Theatre musical based on the Disney movie, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Friday, May 5; 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Saturday, May 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, $17-$29, 424-5220
Little Shop of Horrors — IPFW Department of Theatre performance of Alan Menken-Howard Ashman musical comedy, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29, Williams Theatre, IPFW, Fort Wayne, $5-$18, 481-6555
Next to Normal — Tony Award- and Pulitzer-winning musical about coping with mental illness, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, May 4-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, Three Rivers Music Theatre, Fort Wayne, $10-$20, 498-2270
The Taming of the Shrew — William Shakespeare’s now somewhat controversial comedy about the battle between the sexes, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29 and Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 12-13, First Presbyterian Theater, Fort Wayne, $12-$20, 426-7421 ext. 121
A Wrinkle in Time — all for One productions’ adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s young adult science fiction novel, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 28-29; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 30; 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 5-6; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7, PPG ArtsLab, Auer Center for Arts & Culture, Fort Wayne, $11-20, 422-4226
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Click header for complete Art calendar
37th National Print Exhibition — Juried exhibition featuring contemporary printmakers from around the nation, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Diane Allen Groenert — Exhibition of local artist’s Downtown Series and new works, Monday-Saturday thru June 24, West Central Microcreamery & Cafe, Fort Wayne, 415-9293
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Expressions of Existence — An exhibition of works by artists through history, including Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Francisco Goya and others whose works have been influenced by disabilities, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Fort Wayne Photographers Club — Exhibition featuring local photographers, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 30, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
Jan Krist-Finkbeiner — Exhibition of ceramic reliefs, Tuesday-Sunday thru May 5, Artlink Contemporary Art Gallery, Fort Wayne, 424-7195
Juxtapoz Magazine: 25 Years Under the Influence — A chronicle of the iconic magazine’s evolution into one of the most influential magazines of art of the counterculture, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Kathy Funderburg & Diane Schafer-King — Acrylic paintings (Funderburg) and works in marbled paper and fabric (Schaefer-King), Monday-Saturday thru April 29, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Norman Bradley and Friends — Exhibition of works by friends and colleagues of the late Fort Wayne artist, Tuesday-Saturday thru May 20 , Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Perspectives Live Butterfly Display — Up close and personal perspectives of the Conservatory’s newest collection of live butterflies, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 25, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Rhoda Gerig: The Hope of Eagles — Photographic images of eagles, daily thru June 4, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Robert Williams: SLANG Aesthetics! — An exhibition of new work by the artist considered the godfather of the lowbrow, pop surrealist and colloquial realism art movements, Tuesday-Sunday thru July 23, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
Sharon — An exhibition of Leon Borensztein photographs chronicling the struggles he faced raising his severely disabled daughter, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $6-$8 (members, free), 422-6467
SOCA Graduate Program: Student Highlights — Juried exhibition of works by students enrolled in USF’s School of Creative Arts graduate program, Monday-Friday thru April 30, Lupke Gallery, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Exhibition of works by IPFW graduation seniors, daily thru May 3, Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Library, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Senior thesis projects from Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates Brenda Drayer (sculpture), Derek Hibbs (printmaking), Ellen Mensch (painting), Nathaniel Morris (sculpture) and Kyle Snodgrass (sculpture), daily thru May 7, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring Palette — New original works by more than 50 nationally recognized artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru May 20 (Cinco de Mayo Fiesta featuring mariachi music by Mark Meussling 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 5), Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568