Looking at Tucker Nichols’ “Waiting Rm” a little bubble of delight starts to loosen from somewhere around the solar plexus from where it was stuck and mired for who-knows-how-long and rises up till it gurgles to the top of the head and breaks out on the unwary art-viewer in an uncontainable smile.
Taken from local lore, actual history, present situations, and bits of words overheard or gleaned in conversation, “The Waiting Rm” is a kind of hologram constructed from information that, when brought together (in seeming random order) create a convincing replica of place. Not “bricks and mortar” but something more ineffable, an essence. In the case of “Waiting Rm”, that place is Brattleboro, and, it turns out, that essence is gleefully eccentric.
Drawn directly on the walls of a small room in the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, curated by Mara Williams, Nichols’ on-site work is made up of whimsical, child-like line drawings, drippy washes, and masking tape.
With no overall, all-at-once impact, the piece invites – begs for — close-up inspection. Scattershot pieces of fact bump up against the artist’s wry commentary (as in the drawing of the Estey Organ factory buildings, with the caption, “We built this city on church music”). In between are cartoon-like drawings that read like quizzical diagrams, such as the rows of loops under a gray wash, with the caption: “My Favorite Shingles”; or a drawing of tiny circles beneath an oval inside a rectangle, indecipherable until I’d read above it, “He still gets excited the first time he sees a flurry through the windshield”. Over five days the artist went out into the town and then came back to record his findings. The piece coalesces into a whole only as these fragments are reflected, refracted and mingle with the viewer’s own experiences and reference points. The piece gains integrity by virtue of a kind of ricochet effect.