You know Scott Tucker: black jeans, black t-shirt, black Doc Martins, thick-rimmed black glasses, an unruly but somehow styled mane of dark hair, and a smile fixed on his face. You’ve seen him in galleries, fashion shows, onstage, backstage, and on the streets of Dallas. He’s had a pretty busy 2017 and we were able to catch up with him to talk about his recent projects and visions for Dallas.
PATRON: You’ve been a staple and a champion of Dallas’ emerging art scene for years now, what are some of your fondest memories and accomplishments thus far?
Scott Tucker: That’s nice of you to consider me a staple! Man, I’ve been fortunate enough to be around a lot of action over the years. I’ve opened two art galleries (Inner.space Projects, Blow-Up Gallery) and played in two bands (The Orange, Special Edward) over the past 15 years so I’ve been busy. I’d say my proudest accomplishments are in two separate categories. With music, the 10 years I spent in The Orange was pretty magical at times. Starting as an opening band at the now defunct Liquid Lounge and ending as headliners at the Kessler and Granada Theater was quite an accomplishment for us. European radio play, multiple SXSW appearances, national tour dates and what almost ended in a major record deal for the band constituted as a huge part of my life. I’m very proud of that. Then right after The Orange ended I got an email from Stone Temple Pilots management informing me that I was initially being considered for the new singer position and the band wanted to see/ hear more material… That was wild. I didn’t get the part but it was really cool to be considered. It’s probably because the video I sent them was of me at SXSW that year hanging off rafters and almost pulling down the giant tent covering the stage we were on! They probably thought I was nuts… Oh well, I love that band anyway.
As far as art ventures go, of course, the opening of my two art galleries was a lot of work and made me feel pretty good. The show I recently curated for the Dallas Mexican American Historical League was pretty epic. It showcased over 100 years of photographs featuring Dallas Mexican American Musicians. I had a chance to meet the world famous Trini Lopez and he was really cool too. That exhibit turned out amazing. Other fond memories were my 2015 solo art exhibition at the Circuit 12 Contemporary and the time my sister and I were hired to paint one of Stella McCartney’s Dallas fashion shows for Neiman Marcus last year. Yep, it has been a wild ride for sure.
P: How did Inner.space come to life?
ST: Funny enough Inner.space was a gallery that had not previously been planned out like my last one was. The gallery came about from a small art collective called The Duncanville Design Group really pushing the envelope. Duncanville has a small population of very talented artists, most being represented by Dallas galleries. I originally lived in Duncanville as a child and when I came back last year I was introduced to this group. We immediately all connected and with the help of developer Monte Anderson we made a hip art gallery in Duncanville a reality! It’s really been fun.
P: What is the mission/vision for Inner.space?
ST: My mission for Inner.space is to show some of the coolest, boldest and purest forms of artwork I can find. I only show artists that I sincerely believe in and enjoy their work. Some of my artists are MFA graduates from prestigious art schools; others are self-taught working artists. It’s important that all of my artists have a defined sense of who they are, where their work is going and how it fits or doesn’t fit into the world. I feel too many artists today lean heavily on rhetoric to justify both themselves and their work. I refuse to show art like that. The Inner.space mission is to take things back to their purest possible form. Public space art, murals, bronze sculptures and site-specific happenings will all be features of our 2018 schedule.
P: Why did you decide to set up a gallery in Duncanville over previous galleries in Dallas?
ST: The painter Sarah Martin and I opened a very short-lived space in 2016 called Cave of the Golden Calf in Exposition Park next door to 500X Gallery. That was about the time that the Dallas Fire Marshall was cracking down on basically anybody who had more than three canvasses and five jugs of turpentine in their space. We had one daytime opening last July but were slated for execution fast. Thankfully our lease was almost up before doomsday so when we left the space I wanted to try doing something elsewhere. I thought about Arlington as I have fond memories of an old DIY space I used to hang out at called F6 a decade ago, but ultimately things in Duncanville worked out best. Elliot Smith, Tim Delaughter and Marilyn Manson all have lived in Duncanville. Okay, I lied about Marilyn Manson, but it is a funky little place.
P: [ M o x i e ] closes this Saturday ( the show has been extended until Oct. 14), tell me a little about the show and your next exhibition.
ST: [Moxie] features new works by Toni Martin, Sarah Martin, and Sheryl Anaya. It is an exhibition I am extremely proud of, as I adore the work and handpicked each piece from the artist’s collections. I feel Toni and Sarah’s work explores feminism through abstract expressionism in its most primal but also whimsical forms. Some pieces are fierce with bold slashes of paint on pastel while other works replicate delicate chemical reactions exploding luminescence. Sheryl’s installation is about space, texture, and expectation. Her piece went over so well at the opening show Austin College hired her to do a further installation in their campus gallery the following week. It’s really an amazing show. I’m excited to exhibit these three artists together as I feel each one of them is clearly a showstopper creative. I’ve actually decided to keep the show up another couple of weeks so the closing has been rescheduled to October 14.
P: You’ve recently curated Música! Our Rhythm, Our Heart, Our Soul– A soundtrack to the Mexican-American experience in Dallas a historical photography exhibit celebrating 100 years of Mexican American Musicians in Dallas. How did you come to curate this exhibition and what does it mean to you?
ST: I worked extremely hard on this exhibit and it means a lot to me for several reasons. I was hired by the Dallas Mexican American Historical League to curate the exhibit because of my strong ties to music and art as well as my family’s personal connection to the subject matter. I’m half Latino and the Mexican- American side of my family made a real contribution to Dallas music starting with my great-grandfather Marcelino Marceleno back in 1915. He was an orchestra and bandleader that played most of his life until finally retiring from music in the early 1980’s. On the other side of my family, my great-uncle Henry Munoz and uncle Jerry Maldonado were also musicians featured in the exhibit. Henry is a life-long musician who was the house piano player at the Rosewood Mansion for years. He currently plays every weekend at Three Forks in North Dallas. Jerry played in a well-known group called The Centennials back in the 1960’s. I received a pretty fantastic education over the five-month span of curating this exhibit. We took in over 400 photographs and got them down to a reasonable 140. It was not easy! We were also able to supply period correct musical equipment for the exhibition, which really changed the layout of the space too. We then needed a film component to complete the exhibition and hired local filmmaker Tim Perry to make a documentary on the subject in whom he interviewed over 25 Latino musicians. The end result was just awesome. Every person that comes to see that exhibit is just blown away and as the curator it makes me feel like I did a good job. Working with DMAHL was a real pleasure and I can’t overstate the importance of what they do to preserve our city’s Mexican-American history.
P: Your great-grandfather is pictured in the exhibition were you aware of your family’s history before this exhibition, or did you discover that while combing through the exhibition’s archive?
ST: I was aware of my great-grandfather’s involvement in music. However, hearing stories of his specific contributions, and who his friends and fellow musicians were at the time was quite fascinating. When I started laying out the exhibition I made sure his pictures were placed next to his contemporaries. My grandfather Troy Marceleno helped me piece the story together. That information was extremely valuable to the overall success of the show because it seemed like almost everyone in the community had some kind of tie to my great-grandfather at some point between 1915 and 1960! Truly fascinating…
P: How was it to work with the Dallas legend Trini López?
ST: Trini was a real delight to work with. He was both eloquent and fun. He used to hang out with the Rat Pack back in the 1960’s and even played a series of shows with the Beatles (I think they opened for him), so he’s definitely a larger-than-life character. I think some of that Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin charm rubbed off on him because he’s definitely the real deal. Or maybe he rubbed off on them—I’m not totally sure? Dallas welcomed him back with open arms and he was excited to be there. Overall Trini is a great guy and one of the gems coming out of our city.
P: Where does Dallas sit in the world of art and culture?
ST: I think we are on our way to a great place but need to focus more on local talent rather than “importing” culture. I was at a cocktail party recently and this exact discussion came up. Someone boldly stated, “Dallas has the best culture money can buy.” Clearly, it was a nasty backhanded compliment but there was some truth to the statement. Here in Dallas, we have an AMAZING community of local artists, artisans, gallerists, and musicians contributing to culture every day. Unfortunately, both funding and opportunities are not always there to help facilitate local talents. We need more people like Harlan Crow who, when re-building Old Parkland, hired the best local artisans he could find to help turn the campus into the beautiful and ornate place it is today. We need more people like Monte Anderson who as a developer saw the value Inner.space Projects brings to the Duncanville community and helped us get our gallery open.
Arthur Pena’s recent collaboration with Coach is a step in the right direction and look, now he’s showing in Berlin! We need to focus on turning our Dallas artist’s into exports.
As far as music goes, we need a radio station that really plays local music. KXT does an okay job, but they miss about 60% of what’s really going on around town. Unless you sound like Vampire Weekend, you’re probably not going to get played. Tripping Daisy, The Nixons, The Toadies, Course of Empire and Jibe all had serious local radio play in the 90’s and 2000’s and helped define Deep Ellum and Dallas culture in general. Back then you could find A&R guys from Capitol Records, Atlantic Records and Warner Brothers taking shots at the Curtain Club and Trees scouting and signing the opening acts. Q 102, 97.1 THE EAGLE and 94.5 THE EDGE helped build and create that culture and everyone still talk about it. Cure for Paranoia and Charlie Crockett are doing a fantastic job carrying the torch and creating culture but haven’t received the same notoriety our 90’s bands did. It’s all about the radio play. We have so much talent here, we need to both respect and facilitate it before everyone splits for better opportunities.
P: What is your vision for Dallas going forward?
ST: Hopefully more DIY art spaces, record labels, and bands that keep coming out and pushing hard. There is a young group of neo-psych rockers that seem to be doing some cool stuff. With the help of Jeff at King Camel Productions, I think they can do well. They just have to not break up! I think Circuit 12, WAAS, The Basement, Ash Studios, Kettle and Inner.space have the chance of both creating and shaping the young art culture in our city long term. The Dallas Art Fair does a great job of opening that international portal we need to get both exposure and respect but we need to push our locals too. Creating a culture in a city is like a game of chess. You must be strategic and all components must be working in unison to win the game. Then after you win or lose you clear the board and start from scratch again…It’s a cycle.
P: What’s next for you?
ST: Well, obviously I’m going to continue my adventures with Inner.space Projects. I really feel that with both time and effort Duncanville has a good chance of turning into a small arts community. There are plenty of available clean warehouses and project spaces for studios and galleries here. The local food is great and it seems like a lot of the Dallas tastemakers have been coming out to my openings and buying art. I’m very pleased with our progress, especially having only been open for three months. Other than that I do sincerely miss playing in a band so this fall I’m starting a new project called RELIGION that I’m pretty excited about. I’ve really enjoyed curating cultural projects this year so hopefully, I pick up a few more in 2018. Overall though, I’d say this is a really exciting time in my art career. We’ll see what the future has in store for all of us Dallas natives. It’s a very exciting time to live in big D.