W. Tucker

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Austin American-Statesman

October 6, 2016

On a walk through his current solo exhibit at Grayduck Gallery, artist W. Tucker paused and offered an answer to a question that wasn’t even asked.

“You know, I’ve been an artist long enough now that when I overhear someone say about my work, ‘My kid could that,’ I take it as a complement,” he says.

Tucker is right-handed. But for years it has been his practice to draw with his left hand. He does so as a way to undo his own intellect, training and skill, and rely instead on his intuitive creativity.

And, yes, there might be childlike playfulness to his work at first gloss.

Really, though, he’s depicting petite yet potent dramas of the human condition: the existential wonderings, the melancholy moments, the whimsical curiosities. Little glimpses of events, vaguely remembered or dreamed.

A recurring panoply of symbols appear throughout his work.There’s a big-nosed man in a hat. An elephant. Beaked birdies. Boxes. Houses. And lots and lots of boats.

There are layers, too.

First there are the drawings, tactile lines made from resin stick, charcoal or chalky graphite.

Then there are the surfaces and materials on which Tucker chooses to draw: worn book covers, pieces of salvaged tabletops or worn cabinet doors with wood veneer peeled off in places, all with a story a of their own.

Lately, the critically regarded Austin-based artist has made standing boxes of scrap lumber with drawings inside and out. Most are the size of a side table.

One is the size of a phone booth, the inside painted a turquoise green. Amid the graffiti-like images is a block of text reading “my mother, my mother, my mother.”

And as he has in larger exhibits, Tucker’s drafted several large wall drawings, ephemeral murals that will be painted over, erased, when the next exhibit is installed.

Life is a series of episodes that flash and then fizzle out. The meme we’re left with is often just a scant image — or nothing at all.

At Grayduck, look closely along one baseboard and you might see where Tucker has placed a tiny drawing or two. No decision yet on whether the baseboard mini drawings will stay after the exhibit is over and, if so, for how long.

Life is full changes.