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MAIL ART: TUCKER

by Britt Chester

editor@yesweekly.com | @awfullybrittish

If you’re running in the music circles of the Triad, then you’re hardpressed to come across anyone, whether in a band or simply a fan of one, that doesn’t know of Tucker Tharpe.

Tharpe is the owner of The Garage, a boutique music venue nestled on the putting fringe of the downtown arts district.

Boutique is not meant to be a synonym for “specialty,” but rather a defining characteristic of its size and the unique artistic qualities of the interior. Through the venue, though, Tharpe has become somewhat of a local celebrity, due by and large to his astute observations and bookings within the local music scene. Yes, The Garage does book national acts from all over the country, but The Garage is where you go to see who and what local bands have graduated from self-posted YouTube videos to playing a full set at a packed venue. And it’s always worth it.

But this isn’t Tharpe’s claim to fame entirely as the man has also transitioned from playing professional soccer and a brief stint in brand marketing, but The Garage has allowed Tharpe to become a viable source of music knowledge and resource in the Triad. And he’s always smiling.

Which is why it’s so funny seeing his mustachioed face in front of the Eiffel Tower.

And in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

Or on an envelope sent from Quebec, Canada.

How did this happen? How did Tucker Tharpe, a Winston-Salem music personality wholly dedicated to bringing the next big act to the ears of his fellow Triadians, manage to end up at all these national monuments?

You can thank Jon Foster, president of the Tucker Fan Club.

Foster met Tharpe when the soonto-be venue owner was pulling shifts at Recreation Billiards years back at the door. Through casual introductions and small world connections, the two began a friendship that has grown and grown over the years.

“Now that all my friends are in bands (Tucker) has some sort of working relationship with them,” Foster said, “so it’s just a small world.”

Aside from his duties as the President of the Tucker Fan Club, Foster is also an English professor at Davidson County Community College. Prior to DCCC, he was teaching at Forsyth Tech.

“It’s a good gig because I get to be creative,” said the 34-year old professor.

But the Tucker Fan Club is also full-time, depending on how you view payment for services rendered.

“There are no monetary rewards, it takes a ton of time, and creative energy, so you are pretty much seeing a paycheck in the form of creative dividend,” Foster said.

The Tucker Fan Club operates because of the small, niche world of mail art, a pastime Foster has made into a full-time job.

Mail art is a network of artists all over the world who send pieces, finished or unfinished, through the mail to another artist.

There are never any formal introductions, and often times very little correspondence outside of the actual art.

The Tucker Fan Club, in this case, has managed to find its way from Foster’s living room where he cuts out the mug of Tharpe and places a few copies in an envelope before sending it with a domestic or international address to a recipient. Foster said he’s got a notebook full of artists that he knows follow through.

And Tharpe seems to be perfectly OK with this.

“You couldn’t do it to anyone else because other people might think it’s weird,” Foster admitted. “(Tucker) is just, like, ‘give me all your energy,’ so he’s the perfect person for it.”

Foster also said that although he sends pieces of Tucker Fan Art to anyone who requests them, it’s the ones that are coming from overseas that make this project worthwhile.

“There are people sending from Greece and France. They make it on their table in Greece or France. They do it,” he said.

And the President of the Tucker Fan Club shares it with everyone. !

WANNA GET art?

Go to www.facebook.com/tuckerfanpage and simply request a package of Tucker fan mail art. Foster will send it along, and you can do with it whatever you want, just be sure to share.

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