MarciaTucker%20Photo.jpgMarcia Tucker is known internationally
for organizing many significant art exhibitions and for founding
the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City in 1977. She
fell in love with Santa Barbara years ago when she swapped houses
with Richard and Cissy Ross. She and her family spent many a summer
vacationing here, and in 2005, she and her husband Dean McNeil
packed up their SoHo loft and moved into a beautiful home on lower
Chapala Street. Marcia, age 66, died on October 17 at home
surrounded by her loved ones. Her absence is felt around the

I met Marcia Tucker in 1995 when I went to New York to intern
for her at the New Museum. She immediately opened up her address
book to me, and I spent every free moment thereafter meeting with
artists. This, and the fact that we both collect salt and pepper
shakers, cemented our friendship at once and garnered me an
invitation to participate as a guest in her annual Zombie Wedding
for the New York Halloween Parade. She was an outstanding
mother-of-the-bride and her husband was the perfect preacher.

Marcia was deaf in one ear as the result of a motorcycle
accident. She told me it wasn’t until after she lost her hearing
that she fell in love with singing and Sacred Harp music. I used to
stay with Marcia, Dean, and their daughter Ruby on my subsequent
trips to New York. I would always try to be there on Tuesday nights
when her a cappella group, The Art Mob, was practicing early
American ditties like “Cooking Breakfast for the One I Love,” “The
Rabbit, or The Advantages of Being Small,” or “Nice Work If You Can
Get It.” There was nothing sweeter than lugging up those three
unbearably steep flights of stairs and hearing their vibrant voices
floating through the loft. She taught me to find the time to follow
all of my passions, no matter what.

During my internship, I helped her organize an exhibition called
A Labor of Love (1996), a project that, for me, reinforced one of
Marcia’s most dynamic qualities: her ability to change, grow, and
bear-hug contradiction. In our research, we went on dozens of
studio visits and had many conversations about how this show was a
180-degree turnabout for Marcia because for years she had been
advocating conceptual work and ephemeral work of the moment. Then,
one day she asked herself, “What is it about art that takes years
to make?” She taught me to question my own work and to always look
at an idea from all angles.

Marcia wore many hats, and being a teacher was one she took
seriously. She trained several generations of museum professionals,
working with them at the New Museum or teaching at Bard College’s
Center for Curatorial Studies, Colgate University, the Rhode Island
School of Design, the School of Visual Arts, and Otis College of
Art and Design. Marcia’s legacy of championing diversity and
wanting her museum staff to mirror a snapshot taken on any New York
City bus, making art accessible to everyone, and believing the best
way to make change is from inside the institution (not out), lives
on through those individuals she has touched through her classes,
exhibitions, and publications. Through these media and voices, her
words and ideas retain the power to teach and change thought into

I volunteered with Marcia because she was the best in the field.
My six-month internship with her was unpaid, so two months before A
Labor of Love was to open, I had to come back to Los Angeles. When
I returned for the opening night, I was amazed to find my name
(along with the two other interns) listed as organizers of the
exhibition. Marcia believed in giving credit, including people in
the process, and living by example. She taught me the importance of
saying thank you. It now falls to me to thank Marcia for being in
this world, moving through it with such verve, and leaving us with
brilliant and contradictory ideas to carry forward the work of art
and the pleasures of life.

Meg Linton is the director of the Ben Maltz Gallery and
Public Programs at Otis College of Art and Design.


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