Category Archives: Tucker Neel’s Projects

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Museum of American History, Artillery Magazine, July 2014

This press release was a work of art I contributed to Artillery Magazine’s “Celebrity” issue in July of 2013. The press release was published, as is, with no explanation, in the magazine.









The National Museum of American History to Exhibit Artworks by Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush

The National Museum of American History is pleased to presentPresidential Pictures: Paintings & Drawings by Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. This unprecedented exhibition brings together works from three of the most powerful and influential men in American history. Presidential Pictures will no doubt open the public’s eyes to the fact that these men were not just great politicians but also true artists.

While he is best known as the American president who desegregated the U.S. armed forces and public schools, signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and 1960, and articulated the anti-Communist “domino theory,” Dwight D. Eisenhower was also a dedicated painter. Having taken up the art in 1948 to relieve the stress of being Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, Eisenhower created hundreds of images before, during and after his presidential tenure. He even had an artist’s studio installed in the White House. Always a straight-shooter, the former President was quick to dismiss symbolic meanings viewers might read into his tranquil images of farm houses, mountains, and mirthful family members. At a 1967 exhibition of his paintings, the former president told United Press International reporter Richard Cohen, “They would have burned this [expletive] a long time ago if I weren’t the president of the United States.” Referring to his portrait of Abraham Lincoln—based on a photo by Alexander Gardner—one cannot help but consider the thoughts that went through the artist’s mind as he carefully rendered the shine on the forehead of his heroic predecessor. President Eisenhower’s work is provided courtesy of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Museum, The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum, and David and Julie Nixon Eisenhower.

It’s no secret that Ronald Reagan was an actor before he was a politician, starring in dozens of films, from Santa Fe Trail to The Voice of The Turtle. Political and film historians have proposed that President Reagan’s work as a stage and screen actor, President of The Screen Actors Guild, and spokesman for General Electric, allowed him to cultivate a “Teflon” façade, an impermeable presence that deflected criticism from the Iran-Contra affair to his indolence at the dawn of the AIDS crisis. But did you know President Reagan was also a cartoonist before and after his time in office? Visitors to this exhibition will get the rare chance to explore President Reagan’s prolific drawing practice through his images of cowboys, horses, football stars, butlers and even caricatures of hook-nosed men and mustachioed Asian faces. As President Reagan said in a 1984 letter to political cartoonist Jeff MacNelly, “I am a cartoon aficionado up to and including reading the comics every morning.” Amidst these pictures—most of them doodled on White House stationery—one sees the president’s externalized mental space in the moments between moments, when meetings got a little too boring and he needed some distraction. President Reagan’s work comes to us courtesy of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library and the many private collectors credited in the exhibition’s catalog.

Unlike his artistic predecessors, George W. Bush took up the palette knife after leaving office. America knows the Decider in Chief as the man who battled for the contentious 2000 election, initiated the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and signed The Patriot Act into law. But in 2014, President Bush had his first museum show of portraits comprising images of global leaders such as Vladimir Putin and the Dalai Lama, all taken from the Google image search engine. Since then, he’s never looked back. Speaking of his now prolific painting practice, President Bush told CNN’s John King, “I relax. I see colors differently. I am, I guess, tapping a part of the brain that, you know, certainly never used when I was a teenager.” Amongst the former president’s numerous portraits, visitors will have the opportunity to fully experience the former Commander in Chief’s visual perspective on what it was like to connect with global leadership. President Bush’s paintings appear courtesy of The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

A catalog with essays by Lynne Cheney, Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith accompanies this exhibition.

Special Events:
Feb. 6: To celebrate his birthday, the museum will screen Knute Rockne: All American, starring the former president. A panel moderated by former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will follow.

Starting Feb. 14, President George W. Bush will teach a 10-week drawing and painting class, focusing on classical technique. Students will produce a portrait and a still life, using live models and nature mortes arranged specifically by the 43rd president. Reservations required.

Up Next At The Museum:
Missing! A photographic survey of looted artifacts from the Vietnam, Afghan and Iraq wars.


Tucker Neel in Looky See at the Ben Maltz Gallery

The Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design is pleased to present the group exhibition:

LOOKY SEE: A Summer Show
July 26-September 13, 2008
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 26, 6-8pm with solar-powered music by SYCONS Closing Reception: Saturday, September 13, 3-5pm

Looky See: A Summer Show opens Saturday, July 26, 6-8pm at the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design located at 9045 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045 and is on view through September 13, 2008. This large group show features inspired work by 28 artists who draw, cut, film, pin, perforate, perform, and journal. This exhibition is organized by Meg Linton, Director of the Ben Maltz Gallery and Public Programs, and Curatorial Intern Nina Laurinolli, and is a selection of work made from dozens of studio and gallery visits and lengthy reviews of artists’ materials over a one-year period. The exhibition offers a mixture of representational and abstract work by a multi-generational group of dynamic artists.

Artists in the exhibition: Emily de Araújo, Eric Beltz, Barbara Berk, Joe Biel, Sandow Birk, Ann Diener, Roy Dowell, Erin Dunn, Erica Eyres, Iva Gueorguieva, Penelope Gottlieb, Richard Keely and Anna O’Cain, Takehito Koganezawa, Tucker Neel, Claudia Nieto, Aaron Noble, Chris Oatey, Ruby Osorio, Ebony G. Patterson, Ron Santos, Mindy Shapero, Fran Siegel, Coleen Sterritt, Fred Stonehouse, Randal Thurston, Elizabeth Turk, Xawery Wolski.

Location: Otis College of Art and Design, 9045 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

Parking & Admission: Free. Visitor parking in structure on La Tijera.

Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-5pm / Thu 10am-7pm. Closed major holidays (August 30-Sept 1)
Gallery Tours: 310.665.6909 to schedule tours for school, museum or other groups
Gallery Info: 310.665.6905,,

Tucker Neel in Party Favors at Bonelli Contemporary, Los Angeles

Party Favors is an exhibition exploring the party—as a subject, an idea, a state of mind, and a model of artistic practice. Bringing together a diverse assortment of works and events exploring social dynamics, play, food, performance, games, pleasure, decadence, and excess, it aims to explore the widespread tendency among young artists and art spaces in LA today toward a renewed interrogation of community, collaboration, and social interaction—as well giving the art community something to do in the often sleepy month of July.

The exhibition has two parts: a group show in the gallery, consisting of sculpture, painting, video, photography, and an installation of “art that you can drink,” to be served exclusively at the opening; and a spectacular series of events, each organized by a different artist or group. The events will be held at the gallery and in other sympathetic venues in and around Chinatown. Most are free of charge. A full and regularly updated schedule will be available on the gallery’s website at

The show kicks off the night before the opening with late night séance marking the birthday of artist Miguel Nelson, complete with banana daiquiris. The following night we’ll be pouring of Fallen Fruit’s new line of neighborhood-inspired vodkas. Other events include a wine tasting with Echo impresario Julian Davies; a fried chicken social at High Energy Constructs; the eighth incarnation of the Fucked Up Drawing Party; a record listening party with Tao Urban; a game day with Elizabeth Hamilton and Jon Zerolnick; a Mystery Cafe with Tamala Poljak, Anna Oxygen, and Paloma Parfrey; and performances by Frohawk Two Feathers and the Forces of Nature, Nuttaphol Ma, Maxi Kim, and Christine Wertheim, among others. Artists for the exhibition include Brian Bress, Martin Durazo, Fallen Fruit, Fucked Up Drawing Party, Samantha Magowan, Michael Barton Miller, Chris Natrop, Tucker Neel, Miguel Nelson, and Tao Urban.

Confabulations: Drawings by Tucker Neel at Commissary Arts

Confabulations: Drawings by Tucker Neel
Commissary Arts
68 North Venice Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291
United States

Dates: January 19, 2008 to March 1, 2008
Artist Reception: Saturday, January 19, 2008, 5-8pm
Gallery hours are Thursday & Friday 12-5pm, Saturday 12-6pm, and by appointment.
For additional information or to request visual material,
please contact the gallery at (310) 990-9914, or email
To view works in the show visit

The future will be fabulous

The future will be fabulous

Press Release: Commissary Arts is pleased to announce
Confabulations, a solo show by Los Angeles based
artist Tucker Neel. Fascinated by the ways people
attempt to capture memory in a material form, Neel
uses his polymorphous practice to investigate
overlooked and unintentional monuments and memorials
to better understand how people mark and archive both
personal and collective experience. For this
exhibition, Neel presents hundreds of subjective
drawings executed in the past year. At first created
inadvertently as a way to pass time, the work reflects
the transitory, imperfect and befuddling nature of
personal memory.

Each 8 ½ x 5 ½ inch drawing contains an image and a
text that relate to each other if only tenuously.
Populated by bandaged aristocrats, frustrated
debutantes, overdressed crocodiles, and a steady
stream of countless unexpected figures, Neel’s
drawings appear fresh, playful and spontaneous. When
accompanied by humorous, prescient, bawdy and
sometimes downright disturbing texts, his drawings
take on new meaning, become stories, placards, and
signposts for passing thoughts, observations or
quotations. At times, the resulting compositions are
direct and easy to understand and sometimes they are
quizzical, even impenetrable.

With each passing day the exhibition will change as
the works shuffle and move around the gallery;
drawings leave the walls upon purchase only to be
replaced by a seemingly endless stream of even more
works. Viewing and re-encountering these drawings
throughout the run of the exhibition is sure to
delight, amuse and captivate each visitor. For more
information and to see more works by the artist please

The exhibition runs from January 19, 2008 to March 1,
2008. There will be a reception for the artist on
Saturday, January 19, 2008 from 5 to 8pm. Commissary
Arts is a new gallery space in Venice presenting work
by emerging and mid-career contemporary artists based
in Southern California through a mix of solo and group

The gallery is located at 68 N. Venice Boulevard,
Venice, CA 90291. Gallery hours are Thursday & Friday
12-5pm, Saturday 12-6pm, and by appointment. For
additional information or to request visual material,
please contact the gallery at (310) 990-9914, or email

Catalog essay by Allison Schifani.

Words are tricky things. If you can call them things. We tend to experience them, read them, think them, not in their ‘thingness’, not in themselves, but always as something else. They refer, describe, title or they fail to do so. And even as words fail, they hint at their impossible references, descriptions, titles. They invite those viewers to whom they are offered, those listeners who are able to hear them, to remake them, re-imagine them, and thus to produce them.

The collection of Tucker Neel’s works presented here get at the slippery non-thingness of language and at its effects on us. His works here offer us text paired with images to which we might suitably assume that text refers. But it is in the jarring gap between the two–the image and the text–that these artworks expose their own power.

We, as viewers, are left grasping at the text and the picture, trying to decipher, trying impossibly to force the text to make sense of the image or the image to make sense of the text. It is in this gap, revealed so cleverly, so sincerely (or perhaps so sarcastically?) by these works that we begin crack open the broader trouble at hand: the subjective experience and the voice of the subject. How precariously these two facets of the social world are linked and how ephemeral, how threatening, how bizarre and uncanny is our experience of this tenuous link.

The Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure filled pages of his works (posthumously collected and formed by his students in a Course in General Linguistics) with diagrams–with pictures, trying to show a line between the sound-image (a word, spoken or written) and the concept (the thing itself, supposedly outside of language but to which it refers) to which this sound-image was to get at. What he missed, and what many thinkers have worked to explore, is that the lines he drew and redrew between a word and the concept to which it was connected was just what Neel’s works seem to get at–its not such an easy line to draw. It’s not a line at all. What lies between signifier and signified is lived experience–bodies, spaces, memories. To get from one side of the diagram to the other is to produce language, a language that communicates something, surely, but invariably something altered by its hearer, by its reader. In getting from the voice to the thing it speaks there are, it turns out, a multiplicity of voices, an infinitude of things.

Images, too, are tricky things. If you can call them things. They, too, are experienced, they are read. And they are always complicated by text. In a country where only the gravest of afflictions and deepest of pains seem immune to ironic mime and sarcasm, it is difficult to tell when–if this was ever possible–someone is saying what they mean. Neel’s works seem to hint at this trouble too because, in the end, we’re not sure we should take him seriously. By pairing the text with the image, playful, sometimes downright goofy images, we are not left just to wonder at the meaning secured somewhere, unreachably, behind the text, behind the images, but also at ourselves, our own skills at reading.

The first work I saw of this collection was given to me at an informal and somewhat raucous art opening in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles. The image was a bookshelf, floating out of context on the white page, atop it a row of books without visible titles–a human skull set up at one side as a book end and at the other, five shooting stars leapt inexplicably up from the books and into space. Below was the inscription, “We really do want to change the world.” I wondered, at first, if I had missed the joke. If that ‘really’ mocked idealism or if that skull exposed the consequences of its inevitable failure.

That piece has been moved about my house for over two months now and, because it’s mine, there is no longer a joke to get. I did the job that text requires. I produced my meaning which shifts and stirs and won’t sit still. But the eyes of that little skull, the illegible spines of those books, constantly remind me that meanings, like memories, like living, won’t sit still either. They have to be made and remade.

Finally, I think, there is the tricky thing (if you can call it a thing) that is joy. Neel’s works are jostling, confounding even, but they are always also about a certain amount of play–with language, with image, with the wide open space between the viewer and the work viewed. And this means that these works have a certain political potency. There is always subversive power in play, in pleasure, and in joy. Long histories of political art and activism make that more than clear. If nothing else, Neel gives us a little space to play in. That is no small offering.

Tucker Neel’s Perspectives in the Crowd at The Bolsky Gallery

Curator’ Statement:

Perspectives in the Crowd
Bolsky Gallery
Otis College of Art and Design
June 20-August 29, 2007

The universal gesture of the upraised arm holding a lighter at a live concert has received an upgrade. Instead of lighters, outstretched limbs hold aloft, like triumphant torches, countless digital cameras and cell phones to document the here and now to be saved and shared, seemingly forever, on the internet.

The videos in Perspectives in the Crowd are all documents of the same event: a live performance by the band Daft Punk at the 2006 Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California. They were gathered by contacting people who posted their personal footage on YouTube. I asked each person if they would give me permission to compile their raw data of the concert onto one DVD. Hailing from various parts of the U.S. and the world, these DIY documentarians came together for one night at Coachella, and they are reunited here via their shared recorded memory to present a night of their impressions.

The videos represent both a personal and collective experience, a position of subjectivity within a crowd while simultaneously presenting an objective, often unedited, view of the crowd and band. When compiled on one DVD and projected in succession in a public space, layers of experience are being added at every remove from the original site and experience—from a tent to a digital camera to the internet to a gallery. This contemporary transformation in how, we as viewers, process experience as both participant and recorder is changing our relationship to the present. As we transfer our memories to prosthetic devices and download them to a public forum it raises dozens of questions.

What does it mean to have so many people documenting the same event with different types of cameras from so many perspectives? How have technologies like digital cameras, cell phones, and sites like YouTube changed the way we individually and collectively experience the world around us? Does this way of documenting our own experiences help us to remember or does it usher in a new way to forget the moments between recorded images? Does it mean we capture and convey the ‘real’ experience or are we generating an entirely new reality?

ARTFORUM.COM review of the show:

“Perspectives in the Crowd” is a large-scale video projection comprising over fifty DIY audiovisual accounts of Daft Punk’s raucous 2006 performance at the Coachella Music Festival, all gathered from YouTube and spliced together by artist Tucker Neel. The effect of this unlikely project is mesmerizing and variously suggestive. Like much of the best performance documentation—think of Chris Burden’s early performance photographs or the Viennese Actionists’ fastidiously composed performance stills—this video compilation immediately establishes itself as ontologically distinct from the live source event. It is true that each digital video captures the same musical performance, but the resultant work is of an entirely different order; ultimately, Neel’s canny project is an autonomous aesthetic gesture only tenuously related to the spectacle that is its source. Agitated camera movement and digital pixelation conspire to render the stage a throbbing mass of light, screens, and speakers. The pounding of electronic beats cuts in and out, and only occasionally does the amateur camera operator succeed in training his or her lens on the two space-age druids elevated in the center of the stage, fiddling feverishly with a concealed control panel, their efforts generating a state of near hysteria in the audience. Neel’s work has a presentness entirely absent from most performance documentation. This presentness derives chiefly from that fact that Neel accepts the formal limitations of the medium he is working with, as well as the serendipities of novice camerawork, and exploits those characteristics to create a shimmering, largely abstract audiovisual spectacle that offers the viewer an entirely self-contained, entirely gripping experience.

—Christopher Bedford