Andrew Berardini on Jay Tucker’s “Nudies”: Night Gallery at Co/Lab

Jay Tucker, Cherie, alkyd and oil on canvas board, 1995

Andrew Berardini:

In a black room in Lincoln Heights, I just saw these paintings all lined up on the ground of young girls posed and plaintive, depicted with a certain flatness, almost unemotive, marginally pervy, sometimes their bodies not fitting together quite right, the perspective skewed, the coloring almost advertorial. The backgrounds were always neutral, blank, a mass of brush strokes setting off the ladies lithe limbs and strange tan lines. They almost looked like the sweetest kind of amateur porno (Midwestern grade school teachers looking for love on all the sultry sites) or something darker still, a compendium of targets, lust-laden quarry.

Jay Tucker, Natali, alkyd and oil on canvas board, 1996

Jay Tucker, Sabina with Mirror, alkyd and oil on canvas board, 1994


Jay Tucker, Michelle, alkyd and oil on canvas board, 1995

They are intriguing, even if they don’t even have the right raunch of porn that turns you on when you’re alone but makes you uncomfortable when you’re around others. Weirdly enough, I couldn’t help liking them. “Found” as they were in a thrift shop, ready to be redistributed or thrown away if they malingered too long in the racks. But they wouldn’t have. If I’d found one of these paintings in a second-hand shop, in the streets leaning against a garbage can, baking under the sun on a blanket in a flea market, I would have saved it too, and I’m not even sure why. I could tell myself stories about it, who the painter was (the signature reads “Jay T” marked like a cattle brand), who the painter might have been: a dirty old man living out fantasies past potency, a fifteen-year-old lesbian taking a life painting class at the local community college, a would-be Wesselman or Ramos figuring out the painterly possibilities of sexuality, or perhaps a former policeman turned Sunday painter simply trying to learn from a dog-eared “how to”: landscapes and still-lifes and nudes. I wonder about not only the painter, but the subjects. Free spirits or waitresses, rebellious teenagers or sex workers, house-wives or students. The richness of their imagined stories I might be holding back for myself.

Jay Tucker, Claire And Her Shadow, alkyd and oil on canvas board, 1994


Jay Tucker, Amy N, alkyd and oil on canvas board, 1997

These paintings are completely emptied out in a way, like ancient artifacts whose makers and subjects are lost to time and yet the objects remain, and we can, with an amateur archaeologist’s guesswork, wonder why they were made and by whom. I can see now where I would hang it on my wall now, one of those things to witness every day but slightly to the sidecornered even, so that it might still feel discovered. I would talk about it with friends, come over for late night whiskeys or early afternoon coffees, and ask what they thought of its story. Because that neither of us knowing anything, the painting could be as free to interpretation as a strange stone found in the desert wilderness, a radio station in an incomprehensible tongue whose mere phonemes entrance, a radiant woman passed in the street that I always regret not being brave enough to talk to, even as I am happy to preserve the mystery of her potential, always undecided, beautifully and perpetually undetermined, a passing image of what could be.

September, 2011

Jay Tucker, Stacy, alkyd and oil on canvas board, 1999

Jay Tucker was born in 1925 and his primary profession was law enforcement, first as a patrolman, then as a detective and finally as an inspector and polygraph operator in the San Francisco Bay Area. During his life he was a fisherman, master tennis player, boat captain, sports car driver and player of many musical instruments. At the age of 67, Tucker taught himself the art of oil painting from books he found in used book stores. He began painting landscapes but soon found his passion in figure painting. During a 12 year period, he painted over 150 paintings. Jay Tucker left this earth December 2005 at the age of 80. Night Gallery’s exhibition Nudies at CO/LAB is a selection of Tucker’s most strange and wonderful nude works.

Night Gallery presents “Nudies,” an exhibition of paintings by Jay Tucker

Paintings are sold individually, please contact Night Gallery at [email protected] to view available works.  

 For Hours, Admission, and General Information visit

Our friends at Night Gallery would like to thank Andrew Berardini for his insight and words on the women who posed for Jay Tucker. 

Night Gallery would also like to thank Manny Lopez who saved these paintings from obscurity enabling them to be positioned in a contemporary art context.

Finally, I (this is Geoff) am pleased to host the writing of Andrew Berardini and images of paintings by Jay Tucker. Notes on Looking has championed the work of Night Gallery since I first heard about it as a precursory rumor: “There is a woman from NY,” I was told by Daniel Ingroff and Paul Pescador, “Davida Nemeroff, from Columbia, and she is opening a gallery space in Lincoln Heights that will only be open at night.”

Taking cues from Aleister Crowley and Anton Szandor La Vey, Nemeroff created an east side inversion of art world manners and customs, and Night Gallery has become a languorous, weed-inspired art after-party that continues well into its second year. 

Mieke Marple joined forces with Nemeroff early in 2011 and brings to Night Gallery her curatorial expertise as well as her business acumen. Through the exhibitions that these two organize at the remarkable black-walled space on Avenue 19 – quietly, implacably, under cover of night, if you will – Night Gallery maintains a curious autonomy as collaborator with the artists it hosts. And while Davida Nemeroff the artist and Mieke Marple the curator fade into the mists of  Night, this is a tricky, dense fog, and negotiating this mist, along with Nemeroff’s inversion of white cube presentation for black after midnight-ness, are necessary if one desires an experience with Night Gallery.

Indeed my friends, Night Gallery as a presence pervades the art world which it inverts, and it is revealed not so much as an opposition but as one way forward in a world of diminishing opportunities for magick and for art. If not for Night Gallery my friends, midnight would just give up on LA.

Night Gallery is a community endeavor of Mieke Marple and Davida Nemeroff. Notes on Looking and I am proud to offer Mieke and Davida our support.

Buy paintings – support art – tell your friends.




  1. Magritte might have liked these…

  2. Nice – thank you Millie! In response to my comment, “Davida, these are yours – right?” meaning the paintings, Davida replied: “I guess they are a Night Gallery piece… (but not mine… I like to think of it like Batman and Bruce Wayne… Night Gallery gets to be Batman…)”

    I think Magritte and also Picabia might have liked the Batman connexion.

    I almost used the expression “The Dynamic Duo” to describe Mieke and Davida but restrained myself (-: until just now!


  1. Kate Costello, Hammer Biennial second visit – Sunday, June 10 | Notes on Looking - [...] sides of the canvases. Andrew Berardini on Jay Tucker’s Nudies (and me on Night Gallery): Jay Tucker, Claire…

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