Greg Tucker


Greg Tucker
I was born immediately following World War II, grew up a quiet idealistic introvert in the segregated South in a hometown (Eastman, GA, pop. 5,000) where the only examples of art were a large (nice) WPA-era mural in the Post Office and a 30-foot-tall statue celebrating Confederate soldiers (a not-so-nice reminder of Georgia’s troublesome past). I started drawing when I was about 3 or 4, don’t remember which, but by the time I was 5 or 6, I won a coloring contest sponsored by the Lyons, Georgia, Pal Theater and got a free ticket to a Saturday matinee and saw the Cisco Kid and Pancho beat up on a bunch of bad guys. Oh, the ups and downers of a life in the arts. I graduated from high school in 1965, the year before my school was integrated. From there I went to a local community college, then to the University of Georgia for a BFA in sculpture/drawing. Along the way I also took art and language classes in Mexico. Later, I took graduate-level art classes at UNM for a year or so, but left early. Then, like many other freshly-minted art students, I worked in the trenches to fulfill my starving-artist requirement... doing odd jobs in construction, yard work, making jewelry, learning to do inlays in musical instruments and helping friends build guitars for several years, all the while continuing to do my own art. Then, seeing the endless financial possibilities for going nowhere doing odd jobs, I almost accidentally fell into illustration and design...and followed in the footsteps of many other (and somewhat better-known) artists such as Robert Rauchenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and Edward Hopper, who, at some point in their careers, made a living in illustration/design. My first, and most fun, most fulfilling, experiences were doing posters for Tom Guralnick for the many Jazz and Blues concerts here in Albuquerque and for the Madrid Blues Festivals, and later for his Outpost Performance Space. It was an honor to help promote concerts by internationally famous artists like Cecil Taylor, Dexter Gordon, Ornette Coleman, Pop Staples, Johnny Shines, Eddie Harris, Sun Ra and many more. It was something like heaven. I also did an image for a Santa Fe opera poster and for the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque. Around that time, and because I had always drawn, I fell into a job at the Albuquerque Journal as an illustrator (1980-1990) where I learned how to do illustration OJT. It was a good job in many ways, provided a regular paycheck and I learned a lot about visual storytelling. I’ll note that I did a series of drawing on my own about the 1980 prison riot at the Santa Fe prison.* The group of 33 small drawings were purchased by the Albuquerque Art Museum for their permanent collection. The review of that show in the prestigious ‘Artspace Magazine’, was written by the nationally-known poet/wizard, musician/performance artist, Larry Goodell, maybe the first and last review in the magazine written as poetry. Couldn’t have been more appropriate, more insightful. When I left the Journal, in 1990, I got into freelance illustration, first working mostly for local design firms, then got into the national market for magazine and book publishers. In the next handful of freelance years, I was able to win a number of honors, including Gold Medals and inclusion in national and international competitions and annuals. I’m proud to say I did projects for the 'Dallas Morning News,’ Doubleday Publishing, Harcourt Brace, 'The Village Voice,’ ‘ Utne Reader, ' Psychology Today’ and many other national publications. Other honors are having works in the permanent collections in the UNM Museum and Art and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Most of my life has been witness to the often bitter — and ongoing — struggles to establish minority and gender equality, the turmoil surrounding the war in Vietnam, the AIDS epidemic, was shocked and horrified by the assassination of key American leaders, stunned and saddened by the growth of the violent anti-government militia movement with it’s white-power, KKK leanings, leading up to the Oklahoma City bombing. Then 9/11 and our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the financial and banking market upheavals, the rise of the drug epidemic and its attendant violence and crime. — that brings us approximately up to the present. One huge catastrophe after another. These horrors affect me like falling through the ice on a frozen pond in the middle of winter. I fully realize every day that I've been a witness to some of the most turbulent, painful and important time` s in American history. In the 90s, around the time the national economy and the illustration market had tanked, when I was struggling to make a living in freelance illustration, I was given a bootstrap one-person show at the supportive Exhibit 208 gallery here in Albuquerque, founded and run by artists Kim Arthun and Russell Hamilton, and have shown work there in a number of group shows since. Later I was in a drawings show in 2008 at the Albuquerque’s SCA Gallery, founded by Sherri Crider, in several shows at the Outpost Performance Space’s Inpost Gallery, at the South Broadway Cultural Center, and have since shown at Suzanne Sbarge’s Arts 516, a dynamic, creative arts venue for local, national and international artists. Later I connected with Liz Dineen's Mariposa Gallery in 2008, where I’ve shown regularly since that time.,h_400,c_fill/85fmumjtv40x2zfd1omh.jpg