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.”
Click on the headings below for full calendars
Click header for complete Things To Do calendar
Art on Broadway — Tours of 5 downtown venues featuring art from Alexandra Hall, Julie Wall, Peter Lupkin, Daniel Dienelt, Knotodday, Kay Gregg, Terry Ratliff and St. Monci, 5 p.m. Saturday, March 25, Broadway Street, Fort Wayne, free, 417-5925
Beer, Bourbon, Bacon Festival — Unlimited beer sampling from national and regional craft breweries, fine bourbon sampling and bacon inspired treats, 6-9 p.m. Saturday, March 25 (5-9 p.m. VIP), Marquis and Three Rivers Ballrooms, Hotel Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, $35-$75, 484-0411
An Evening with Author Tom Frank — Author of What’s the Matter with Kansas talks about his new book; hors d’oeuvres, lecture and book signing included in admission, 6 p.m. Saturday, March 25, CS3 Hideaway, Fort Wayne, $15 plus donation, 602-1008
Puttin’ on the Ritz —Active 20-30 club fundraiser with live music from Chris Worth and Company, gourmet edibles, wine and beer, live and silent auctions; black tie optional, 7 p.m. Saturday, March 25, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, $50-$90, 450-2844
Shipshewana on the Road — Food, craft and primitives show and sale, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, March 25 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, March 26, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, $4, 483-1111
Click header for complete On the Road calendar
Click header for complete Music & Comedy calendar
Big Dick and the Penetrators — Classic rock at Navy Club, Ship 245, New Haven, 7-11 p.m., no cover, 493-4044
Brat Pack — Rat Pack/variety at Nick's Martini & Wine Bar, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 482-6425
Cougar Hunter — 80s glam rock at Vinnie's Bar, Decatur, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $5, 729-2225
Ellsworth Sharp — Neofolk at Friendly Fox, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8:30 p.m., no cover, 745-3369
FBC Band w/Sheba — Variety/Music and Memories benefit at C2G Music Hall, Fort Wayne , 8 p.m., $7-$15, 426-6434
Fireball Matinee — Rock at Hideaway Lounge, Bluffton, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 824-0455
Fleshwounds — Rock at Hamilton House, Hamilton, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 488-3344
Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra — Funk at Dupont Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m., cover, 483-1311
Fu5ion — Variety at Mitchell's Sports Bar & Neighborhood Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-2 a.m., $3, (260) 387-5063
The Illegals — Rock at O'Sullivan's Italian Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 422-5896
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 Alley Sports Bar, Pro Bowl West, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 483-4421
Johnny Freakin' Xcitor — Country rock at Beamer's Sports Grill, Fort Wayne, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., no cover, 625-1002
Kat Bowser — Variety at Don Hall's Guesthouse, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 489-2524
The Orange Opera w/Mickyle James — Rock at Brass Rail, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., $5, 267-5303
Prime Suspects — Variety at American Legion Post 499, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 483-1368
Quincy and the Q-Tet feat. Phil Potts — Rock/variety at Downtown Eatery & Spirits, Warsaw, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, (574) 267-6000
Second Nature — Pop at Crazy Pinz, Fort Wayne, 8-11 p.m., no cover, 490-2695
Shannon Persinger Quartet — Jazz/variety at Club Soda, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m.-12 a.m., no cover, 426-3442
Todd Harrold & Nick Bobay Duo — R&B/blues/variety at American Legion Post 148, Fort Wayne, 7 p.m., no cover, 423-4751
Click header for complete Karaoke & DJs calendar
Ambitious Blondes Karaoke — Variety at Office Tavern, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 478-5827
Beat Karaoke & DJ — Variety at American Legion Post 296, Fort Wayne, 8 p.m. , no cover, 456-2988
Bucca Karaoke w/Bucca — Variety at Tower Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-6310
Classic City Karaoke w/Bryan Lee — Karaoke at Corner Pocket Tavern, Fremont, 10 p.m., no cover, 495-9255
Classic City Karaoke w/Tobin — Karaoke at Toad's Tavern, Monroeville, 10 p.m., no cover, 623-6226
DJ Shawn — Karaoke/variety at Club Paradise, Angola, 10 p.m., no cover, 833-7082
Fort Wayne Karaoke — Karaoke at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10:30 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Brian — Variety at AJ's Bar and Grill, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., , 434-1980
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/Josh — Variety at Arena Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 557-1563
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — Variety at Chevvy's, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-4748
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 — Variety at Crooner's Karaoke Bar, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., no cover, 486-1979
Live DJ — Variety at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
Shooting Star Prod. w/Barbie — Variety at Uncle Lou's Steel Mill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 436-5787
Shooting Star Prod. w/Stu — Variety at Pike's Pub, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 478-6200
Sidecar Gary's Karaoke & DJ — Karaoke at Kville Pub, Kendallville, 9 p.m.-1 a.m., no cover, 348-1677
Click header for complete Stage & Dance calendar
The Children’s Hour — Lillian Hellman’s seminal drama about bigotry perpetuated against the LGBT community and how easily a lie can spread, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25, First Presbyterian Theater, Fort Wayne, $12-$20, 426-7421 ext. 121
Getting Sara Married — Comedy about an unmarried lawyer in need of a husband (according to her aunt), 7 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. curtain, Saturday, March 25, Arena Dinner Theatre, Fort Wayne, $40 (includes dinner & show), 424-5622
One Foot in the Gravy — Howard Kingkade’s comedy and winner of Fort Wayne Civic Theatre’s Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 26, Arts United Center, Fort Wayne, $10-$20, 422-4226
Click header for complete Movie times
Click header for complete Art calendar
22nd Annual Valentine’s Invitational — Works from local and national artists, Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment thru March 31, Castle Gallery Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 426-6568
2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards — Award-winning works from northern Indiana and northwest Ohio middle and high school students, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Afros: A Celebration of African Hair by Michael July — Contemporary photography exhibit by Brooklyn author/photographer, daily thru April 14, D’Agostino Art Gallery, Indiana Tech, Fort Wayne, 399-8626
An Artful Spring — Works by Gwen Gutwein, Patricia Weiss, Austin Cartwright and more, Tuesday-Saturday thru March 31, Crestwoods Frame Shop & Gallery, Roanoke, 672-2080
Decatur Sculpture Tour — 31 original sculptures and 15 permanent exhibits on display, walking tour maps available, thru April 1, Decatur, free, 724-2605
Echolilia — Works from Timothy Archibald and his autistic son, Eli, Tuesday-Sunday thru June 11, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Entropy — Daniel Swartz solo exhibition explores relationship between death and mourning through combinations of mythology, mathematics, multi-dimensional physics and pop culture, Monday-Saturday thru April 1, Jennifer Ford Art, Fort Wayne, 740-1309
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
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, $5-$7 (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
Garden Party — Garden-themed works in a variety of mediums from over 30 local artists, Monday-Saturday thru March 31, Orchard Gallery of Fine Art, Fort Wayne, 436-0927
Generations: A View of Who Was Who — Works by Romare Bearden, Kara Walker, Alma Thomas, Jacob Lawrence and other African-American artists, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 9, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
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
A Mary Poppins Garden Party — Child-oriented garden exhibit, Tuesday-Sunday thru April 1, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, Fort Wayne, $3-$5 (2 and under, free), 427-6440
Moments in Time: Reflecting on the Human Spirit — Elizabeth Opalenik photographs from her recent Amish series A Journey Home and her Reflecting on the Edge exhibition, daily thru March 26, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
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
RAW. Untamed. Unashamed. Visions of Freedom. — Abstract romanticist works in acrylics and epoxy from Kristy Jahn, Fridays and Saturday-Thursday by appointment thru March 25, The Gallery at Pranayoga, Fort Wayne, 423-9642
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, $5-$7 (members, free), 422-6467
Wabash County Schools Exhibition — Works by high school art students, daily thru April 16, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102