Mark Tucker : Journal


Posted in Personal by marktucker on November 4, 2013

Taking a break from this venue. Seems like Blogs are dead; everybody seems to be only on their iPhones. Thanks. (Oh yeah, there’s still the old-fashioned website too).

Chris Jordan plastics/birds

Posted in Personal by marktucker on September 19, 2013

Caution: pretty intense video. Be warned. This is Chris Jordan’s documentary on how birds eat plastic bottle caps and bags, and it gets caught in their system. I tried to not take home these plastic bags from the deli any more.

Click this Link to watch video..

George Saunders

Posted in Personal by marktucker on August 2, 2013

Commencement speeches seem to be all the rage lately. Multiple people sent me this today; (not sure if they were trying to tell me something or not). A commencement speech by George Saunders on kindness. Nice portrait by Damon Winter too.

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 6.33.51 PM

The Guest House (Rumi)

Posted in Personal by marktucker on June 11, 2013

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jelaluddin Rumi

Banks, C. (1995). The essential Rumi: New expanded edition. New York: HarperCollins.

Leah and Milton in the rain

Posted in New York, Personal by marktucker on May 28, 2013


Brooklyn cookout today

Posted in New York, Personal by marktucker on May 26, 2013

Really fun. Crazy kids. Tricia, Brett, Suzie, and Jackson. And Beatrice, the jump-roping queen.



Dumbo gate

Posted in Personal by marktucker on May 25, 2013

Next door to my building. Beautiful gate.


Eggleston’s Leicas

Posted in Personal by marktucker on May 25, 2013

Thanks, Maude. Article here.


Kitra Cahana

Posted in Personal by marktucker on May 15, 2013

This is what you get from good parenting. This woman is only 17 years old. Very strong view, and great images. Impressive.


Can’t Get Enough: DFW

Posted in Personal by marktucker on May 14, 2013

Green Juice: Kale, Spinach

Posted in Personal by marktucker on May 13, 2013


Dr Brene Brown; Gratitude

Posted in Personal by marktucker on May 11, 2013

Going overboard on the videos, but the latter part of this four minute video is excellent. Everyone knows this woman from the Ted Talks, but this video is really good too.

Group Show: NYC (May 23)

Posted in Family, Personal by marktucker on May 11, 2013

Good Work Show
Opening Reception: May 23rd @ 6:30pm
Fig 19 Gallery


“This is Water”: David Foster Wallace (and more)

Posted in Personal by marktucker on May 11, 2013

and then this, him reading:

“Shelter Me”

Posted in Personal by marktucker on May 11, 2013

Sebastiao Salgado Talk: TedX, on rain forests

Posted in Personal, Photographs by marktucker on May 2, 2013


Vivien Maier Trailer

Posted in Personal by marktucker on April 25, 2013



Tara Brach, Frank Ostaseski: Caregiver

Posted in Buddhism, Personal, Spirituality by marktucker on April 21, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 7.44.49 PM

Stephen Jenkinson, author

Posted in Interesting People, Personal, Spirituality by marktucker on November 17, 2012

Attended a film last night, titled “Griefwalker”, about author Stephen Jenkinson. And then today, an all-day workshop with him. I made this portrait after the workshop, on the grounds of Scarritt Bennett. You can stream the entire film here, for free.

(Thank you Michelle, Kristy, Kelly).

Update: Here is Kristy’s blog post about the workshop that we attended on Saturday.

Portrait of Stephen Jenkinson.

Click to play Video.

My grandparents on my mother’s side. Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. My grandfather, Harley, was a rural postal carrier and farmer and deacon at his church. My grandmother, Rena, was a gardener, manager of the home, and raised four girls. If you’ve ever done work with Stephen Jenkinson, you’ll understand why I’m including this image.

© Estate of Edward Weston. (You must go study with Stephen to get the connection…)

Sappy Admission (Breakthrough)

Posted in Family, Personal by marktucker on November 11, 2012

I never sleep any more, it’s now about 4am. I’m lying in bed and watching an art documentary on Art21, and i hear my phone beep. It’s an email from a photographer friend who lives in Paris. We send each other b/w images back and forth. Anyway, tonight, the link is to this set of images of dogs and cats. Most people would roll their eyes and laugh; we’ve all seen the images on Facebook. But something just hit me tonight — this quality of intimacy, and love, and tenderness is what I want in my photographs. People can laugh all they want. In the end, it always comes back to love and caring.

Below is one of the photographs on that Facebook page. I saw this particular image and my jaw dropped. Perfection.

I just had to write this down, and go public with it. I’m afraid that I’ll go back to sleep and forget this realization.

I have this good friend, and she has a wonderful puppy. A rescue. I watch them together, wrestling and laughing and hugging, and it just takes my breath away.

I also have an idea for a new body of work — of mothers and children. Again, intimacy and kindness and connection. The motivation and history behind that is a whole other conversation entirely. Lisa Donovan and Maggie will be first in line.

I’m going to do the pictures. I’ll survive the laughter.

Thank you K.R. and K.B.R.
And Serena.
And Allegra.
And Diana and Waller and PoppySeed.
And Tricia and Alison too, related to a completely different topic — trying to make sense of the chaos of the storm aftermath in the northeast, and make a contribution.

All of this reminds me of this amazing song (live version) too. Here’s the studio version. Lyrics here.

“Art is a wound turned into light”. — George Braque

“I wonder if this is how people always get close: they heal each other’s wounds; they repair the broken skin.”
― Lauren Oliver, Pandemonium

“What people think of me is none of my business. My job is to live my life by my own values”. — Some smart man in Recovery.

Gratitude today. Planets are aligning.

Driving with Tara Brach (again)

Posted in Buddhism, Meditation, Personal by marktucker on November 4, 2012

I went to Kentucky today, to check on my mother. I got her in the car, and got her to Walgreens to get a Flu Shot. Also got her leaves raked out to the street.

The drive is almost exactly one hour, which ironically, is the length of an average Tara Brach podcast. I listened to a good one today on the way up, and it hung with me, so i repeated it again on the way home. It usually takes me twice, for it to really sink in and hit home. This one is dated September 12th, 2012, and titled “The Freedom of Yes”.

Several highlights from this podcast:

#1: “I’m going to ask you to pick times when you go past your toleration point, and we’re going to examine some. The content of the mind is usually judgement or blame, and the mind is panicking. There’s a rigidity; we can no longer plan on how to respond best to move things toward healing. We’re in really old conditioning.”

#2: “In any moment when we’re focusing our attention on ‘You’re wrong; you should be different’, we’re arguing with Reality. In those moments we are not able to access our resourcefulness. Deep empowerment, deep access to your wisdom — not possible if you’re blaming the other person.”

#3: Poem by Kaveri Patel:

“There’s a monkey in my mind swinging on a trapeze,
reaching back to the past or leaning into the future,
never standing still.

Sometimes I want to kill that monkey, shoot it square
between the eyes so I won’t have to think anymore
or feel the pain of worry.

But today I thanked her and she jumped down
straight into my lap, trapeze still swinging
as we sat still.”

#4: “People don’t want to be bad. They don’t want to be hurtful, deep down. Everybody’s got their leg in a trap if they’re causing Suffering. If you’re struggling with food addiction, or your own anger, or your own insecurity with other people, it’s not your fault — it’s genetics, or early history. It doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to wake up from it, it just means that up until this moment, the causes and conditions are in action”.

#5: Poem by Danna Faulds, “White Dove”:

In the shared quiet, an invitation arises like a
white dove lifting from a limb and taking flight.

Come and live in truth. Take your place in the
flow of grace. Draw aside the veil you thought
would always separate your heart from love.

All you ever longed for is before you in this moment
if you dare to draw in a breath and whisper “Yes.”

Kiki Smith: In Awe

Posted in Personal by marktucker on November 2, 2012

My assistant Samantha Angel turned me onto the artist and sculptor Kiki Smith yesterday. Today, I’ve read and read about her. Fascinating woman. Nice video link here.

Kiki Smith Lying with the Wolf2001. Ink and pencil on paper, 72 1/4 x 88 inches. Photo by Kerry Ryan McFate. Courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York

Copyright Kiki Smith

Copyright Kiki Smith

Early Voting

Posted in Personal by marktucker on October 31, 2012

I went to the Green Hills Library today and voted early. It felt great. Honestly, as I was leaving, I got a little choked up. What a great country we live in. In my daily life, or reading the NY Times, or watching CNN, I can forget about that, but there’s something about going through this local voting process, with all those volunteers, and everyone so cordial and gratious there — it just makes me thankful that I live in the United States.

They gave me this sticker, as I walked out the door. I’m proud to wear it.

“What Tomorrow Brings”: education for Afghanistan girls

Posted in Personal by marktucker on October 15, 2012

Very inspiring film. They want an education. Link here.

Settling into Penland School

Posted in Personal, The South by marktucker on October 7, 2012

Note: This post is not about “serious photography”. This post is about me falling in love with the North Carolina mountains, here at Penland School. I just shot snapshots all day, but loved it. I have no idea where I am, but it’s about an hour and a half drive, north of Asheville. The iPhone5 GPS woman just said, “Just keep driving; you’ll get there soon enough. There’s no hurry; there’s nowhere else to be; just enjoy the view, and stay present, and keep listening to that Tara Brach podcast”.

I started out this morning, after coffee, shooting black-and-white, but the fall color just made me cave in, and switch over to processing in color. The artists in residence here are serious working artists; we toured their studios today. Very impressive work, and an even more impressive work ethic.

(Note: Updated images, posted at the top here, after the initial blog post).

A group shot of our “Photography at Year Zero” class, with Dan Estabrook in the foreground, as the Zombie Slayer. Twelve of the nicest people to spend a week with. (Not pictured: Betsy, the studio assistant). Sadly, tomorrow is the final day, then I’ll spend some time helping a fellow artist, and then wander back to Nashville on Sunday.

I forgot about these two early images that were on my iPhone, from the first hour of the workshop, on Sunday night. The workshop was officially titled “Photography at Year Zero”, and Dan set the Zombie Theme all too convincingly.

A close-up of Dan’s “Zombie Heart”, in the photo area.

Two images from today. No camera at all used today; the cardboard box camera got retired. Now I’m down to sunlight, watercolor paper, silver nitrate, sodium solution, inspiration, bright North Carolina sunshine to expose the plates, and a great teacher. Each image six minutes exposures, 11″x14″ salt prints.

Early this morning; nice light. Portrait of one of the guys in the theatre troupe that came through town. They began their trip in Boone, NC, and travel 15-20 miles per day, on bicycle and horse-pulled covered wagon. They performed here last night, and are headed to Spruce Pine tonight, and then back to Burnsville.

One of Dan’s pieces, in progress. You can see the white sheet, coated first with a dilution of salt, and then coated with Silver Nitrate, and then the leaf is inserted into the Contact Printing Frame. Here it sits, in the afternoon sun, outside the photo building, being “exposed” by the UV Light of the sky. Approximate exposure time is about thirty minutes, then it’s brought inside to the darkroom to be processed.

Dan’s hilarious concoction of boiling down Sumac leaves, in order to make a custom print developer, this afternoon. Pot clearly marked: “Photo Only”.

Rachel, doing her Tiger Woods impression — stepping back to line up her shot. In our low-tech, zombie world, we use stools for tripods, and rocks for leveling devices.

We started today by going on a long nature walk, through the fields and around the campus, talking to the farmers and petting the curious dogs, and gathering raw materials for photograms. Here’s one I made today — it’s been in the UV Oven for about a half hour, and you can see the background turning the color of dark Eggplant. Once the raw materials are removed from this Contact Printing Frame, I’ll develop the print, (and then want to immediately re-do it).

My camera for the week, so far — a corrogated shipping box for artist clay, with added duct tape. (Lots of it). The lens is a PBR can piece, with a tiny pinhole in it. 8.5″x11″ fiber paper is loaded into the camera, to make a paper negative. Then, from there, salt prints will be made by contact printing. (Then, we’ll probably go kill a wild animal, and eat the raw flesh; that’s how primitive the photography is).

Rear of the covered wagon for The Rural Academy Theatre. They just “came through town” yesterday, and stopped over for a performance here tonight at 815pm. Musicians and bicyclists and horses. Nothing surprises me here at Penland — of course a traveling circus just “comes through town” and stays with us.

The view today, across from The Pines. Gorgeous warm day, sunny. I tried a self portrait here, but my fourteen minute exposure was too long, and it just blew out. There’s more to that story, but we’ll leave it at that.

An undercover espionage photo of Dan Estabrook, and his assistant Jimmy in the background, leaving the Photo building. All I know is that there’s a plan to build our own cameras from scratch, and then mount lenses onto them, (maybe), and then do callotypes and salt prints. We’re headed back to the 1800’s. No darkroom involved; only sunlight, contact frames, silver nitrate, and water. There’s also a Zombie Theme involved. More later about that….

The Road to the Artist Barn workshops.

Panorama of the main courtyard area, with the view of the North Carolina hills.

Main courtyard of the school. Kids playing, and girl playing with Crickett.

Gorgeous light in one of the main buildings: Weaving looms.

Street sign on campus.

Handmade detail on the wall, outside the drawing studios.

Work in progress, in one of the wood studios. Head carved out of pine.

Fall colors.

Custom book, found in the bookmaking/binding room.

Interior wall of one of the wood working studios.

Standing guard, outside the Drawing Class.

Gorgeous (giant) stone table, down the street from the Artist Barns. (amazing).

Gorgeous portrait painting, just hanging over in the corner of the wood shop. (Yes, I’d like to buy this painting).

Couple holding hands, in love.

Fabric dye swatches.

Glass-blowing area, this morning.

Early morning rain.

Dried sunflowers, in front of nice blooming flowers.

Margie the dog, spotting an approaching Beagle, early this morning.

Morning fog in the mountains, behind the Drawing Room building.

A glass head, buried and hidden in the tall grass, outside the Glass Studio.

Liz Murray manages a part of the fabric area. She’s working on a table runner for her mom.

Sample piece from Rachel Meginnes, who’s a three-year Artist in Residence here. Very strong work. See more of her work at

Crickett, the little female Corgy pup, outside the dining hall. We’d flip her over on her belly, and rub her little pink stomach. Really sweet dog.

Lisa Donovan’s Buttermilk Road Sunday Supper #1

Posted in Personal, Spirituality, The South by marktucker on July 9, 2012

Lisa Donovan kicked off the first of a series of suppers last night, at the home of Todd Burkett, in East Nashville. Multiple courses, and multiple wines. Horses, labs, and people filled Todd’s home. You can read about it on Lisa’s blog here. Jaime Miller also was there as incredible support for Lisa. Really nice night. I liked Coco, the horse.

Click to enlarge. Will open in a new Window.

Gallery Tour: Atlanta

Posted in Personal by marktucker on June 20, 2012

Yesterday, fellow photographer Tamara Reynolds and I drove to Atlanta, on some kind of madcap gallery rounds. Three galleries and a museum in two and a half days. Slated: The High Museum, for the Picture New York show, and the Picture The South show, and also the Richard Misrach show in the basement; Jackson Fine Art to see Masao Yamamoto, Mona Kuhn, and William Christenberry’s barns; Marcia Wood; and Jennifer Schwartz. There were also two Gerhard Richter “squeegee” paintings at The High; an added bonus; also, a huge (very dark) Jeff Wall image.

Also, this morning, I forced her to stop at R. Thomas Grill for my hippie breakfast, and to see the birds and the flowers outside. There was this one parrot that would lay his head against the front wall of the cage, so that you could reach through and scratch the top of his head.

Roy Lichtenstein sculpture, in the courtyard of The High Museum.

R. Thomas Grill, on Peachtree, my old health-food standby. Birds in cages, and flowers in pots. Paradise, right in the middle of the city.

Abstract folk art piece.

Detail of abstract folk art piece

Reflection of museum visitor in one of the large New York photographs.

Inside The High Museum.

Reflection of Tamara Reynolds, in one of the giant Jeff Wall prints, at The High.

Reflection of me in one of the large abstracts. This is the way I’ve felt the last few days.

Run The Other Way

Posted in Personal by marktucker on February 23, 2012

(Yellow highlighter emphasis is mine).

I saw a link on Facebook yesterday, posted by Jan Ellis, about the massive increase in the number of photographs being taken in the last few years. This is of course due to the cell phone cameras and other P/S digital consumer cameras. But it does make me wonder about the mind-numbing effect of seeing that many images, all around me. And also the effect that it has on society at large. For me, as a photographer for over thirty years, it sends a chill up my spine, and makes me want to run the other way. Below is a key graph from the article, and here is the URL for the complete story.

I start thinking about alternative approaches to image-making at times like this. People like Adam Fuss, Richard Learoyd, Abelardo Morell, the wet-plate practitioners, and John Chiara’s camera built on a utility trailer, Chris McCaw’s 30×40 inch view camera on location, or maybe the craziest of all — Dennis Manarchy’s mammoth view camera that rides in a trailer.

I don’t know all the details, but the fascinating thing about Learoyd’s work is that there is no camera involved. It’s basically a pinhole camera, with him in one room, and the model in the other, and he tapes “positive paper” to the wall. No camera, no negative — the paper is sent straight to the lab, and every image is a 1/1 original. Same thing with much of Adam Fuss’ work; most of his are photograms — no camera involved. Same is true for Morell’s work — he rents a hotel room across the street from a famous scene, and then blacks out the room, and then turns the hotel room into a giant pinhole camera! Stunning work from all these men mentioned.

© Richard Learoyd. All Rights Reserved.

© Adam Fuss. All Rights Reserved.

Portrait: South Beach tattoo artist

Posted in Personal by marktucker on January 24, 2012

Tattoo Artist, Washington Avenue. South Beach, Miami.

South Beach characters

Posted in Personal by marktucker on January 23, 2012

Today, on Ocean Avenue, in South Beach. We met him on the sidewalk, heading north. He danced in the street, and made himself known to the tourists. He’s either a female cheerleader or a Playboy bunny; I’ll leave it up to you.

The second portrait was a very striking woman who was walking down Ocean Avenue this afternoon. Her outfit was pink; her hair was blonde; but the heart-shaped glasses just struck me — like some scene out of a Garry Winogrand thing on Hollywood Boulevard, circa 1965. She was nice enough to stop for a portrait; I got off about a dozen frames. The glasses are just great, and I love the whole vintage feel of the light.

Ocean Avenue, Miami Beach.

Heart-Shaped Glasses -- Ocean Avenue, Miami Beach.

Humane Society Benefit: Hutton Hotel

Posted in Personal by marktucker on January 22, 2012

Attended the Humane Society Benefit last night. Loads of fun. Imagine a giant hotel ballroom, filled with two hundred dogs, in costume, plus a doggie fashion show. At one point, leaving the elevator, it was like a Fellini dream — an elegant hotel lobby, but everyone in the lobby had a dog on a leash, and was dressed to the nines.

I’m sorry; none of these pictures are in focus or exposed correctly. It was just chaos in there; I had to just snap away and hope I got something.



Incredible face.

Great Dane. Heart of gold.

"Dog? What dog...?"

Largest dogs I've ever seen in my life. Not sure the breed. Very sweet. Eyeballs as large as mine.

Here's a side view. Mindblowing.

The Queen. I wanted this dog to arrive in a gold chariot. I love how her paw is saying "Back off, Mister -- you're in my personal space."

Another side view, to show scale. Siblings.

A mixed-breed Blue Heeler, (after my heart). (Reminded me of Little Dottie, passed on).

This woman was a Traveling Marilyn Monroe Treat Table. (Just accept it; don't ask questions).

"Who turned out the lights....?"

Half-human dog, stood on rear legs and helped himself to the Pedigree all-you-can-eat buffet.

His Blue Period...

She was fun. So was her outfit. Great smile.

This woman had an adult Pomeranian. I thought this one was a toy. It was in her purse. It was REAL!

Camera-shy chihuahua. He was SO over it.

Pearl Necklace.

Great ears.

Everything gold...

End of the night. "I'm pooped. Can we just go home?"

Art History: Can-Opener for the Mind

Posted in Personal by marktucker on January 20, 2012

Quick frame of the window light falling on my basement floor. My own private Joan Miro.

So I’m taking some night classes at Watkins, just for fun, and to open up my head. The main class is this excellent class taught by Tom Williams, called Contemporary Art History, and then soon, begins a bookmaking class, and then a silkscreen and drypoint class. I’m just on fire with it all. Especially Art History, because of the way Tom sets up the context for how all these painters were influenced by WWII, and by the painters that came before them. Here is the textbook; a great resource.

Anyway, so I’m gutting my basement, to set up a printmaking area, and I came down the steps the other day and was reminded of these bizarre red/green blocks that are all over my 1930’s old house. Most of them are faded away, but the frame above shows them. Maybe another artist lived here at one time; maybe just some children, but I love these faded grid blocks. I also love the scratched floor in the basement.

Here are some Google Image links to some of the painters we’ve studied so far. Google Images does a pretty good job, but there’s no guarantee that every painting is accurate; who knows how the metadata is coded. The links to each artist are in bold type below.

Jean Dubuffet

© Arshile Gorky

Arshile Gorky

Hans Prinzhorn

Hans Prinzhorn

© Asger Jorn

Asger Jorn

Jean Fautrier

Alberto Burri

Michel Tapie

Willem de Kooning

Joan Miro

My mother’s new friend

Posted in Personal by marktucker on January 10, 2012

My mother has a new ritual — she puts a chocolate chip cookie by the front door each day, and she waits for the little girl across the street to get home from school. When she sees the car pull into the driveway, she takes the cookie over, as a gift. They’ve struck up quite the friendship.

My mother and Tilly, sharing a cookie after school.

Woody Guthrie’s “New Years Rulin’s” (for 1943)

Posted in Personal by marktucker on January 8, 2012

I’m a Woody Guthrie fan, (and Dylan, Seeger, Jack Elliott, and most anything Folk). I saw this a few days ago. He wrote this around 1943; amazing how many of the things still hold true today. Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge, for better readability.

Christmas: Kentucky

Posted in Personal by marktucker on December 26, 2011

Some casual snapshots from a fun day in Kentucky yesterday. It was a gorgeous day; warm and sunny. All the family met at my brother Robert’s home; a menu of grilled pork, baked beans, corn pudding, and Amber’s homemade cookies for Santa. My niece is growing like a weed.

Amber doing her Titantic impression, from a four-wheeler instead of a ship. Robert's new dog, Booker, with a crazy look on his face.

Amber with her new bright-pink snow suit. Not sure what my mother is thinking.

Winning Entry for the Best Wrapping Job, for the Mystery Gift.

Amber trying to explain the Wii/XBox dancing game. Not sure my mother was very into it...

Sadie and Booker didn't hesitate to jump right into the (frigid) water.

My brother Robert and I show off our matching hoodies.

Amber and the very regal Booker, in my brother's back yard.


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