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Fulton Co. artist's work 'for real'

June 01, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - For Brian Tucker, art is an avocation, something to occupy his time when he's not at his day job - supervising the art department at Grove Worldwide, where he has worked the last 25 years.

His hobby as a realist painter has netted him a good part-time income over the years. "It's a pastime. I don't make a living at painting. That comes from my job at Grove."

Tucker's heroes are Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Norman Rockwell and the Wyeths. His work, mostly scenes around his beloved Fulton County, Pa., where he has lived for 26 years, is good enough to net him $1,500 a painting.

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For the last 10 years, his paintings have given the local historical society a financial boost. Each year, he paints a local historical scene for the society's Fulton County Remembers series - from the county's involvement in the French and Indian War to the setting of boundary stones along the Mason-Dixon Line in the county.

The originals hang in the Fulton House Museum. The first series of prints is sold out and most of the second series is gone, he said.

This year, Tucker is painting a Civil War scene under commission by the Fulton County Civil War Advisory Committee. It will be turned into 500 prints, proceeds from which will support the committee's living history events.

The painting depicts Union surgeon Samuel E. Blake's use of Tonoloway Primitive Baptist Church as a field hospital for troops defending nearby Hancock, Md., on Jan. 5, 1862 when the town was being shelled by Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Jackson's guns were positioned along what is now the West Virginia side of the Potomac River across from Hancock.

The Tonoloway Primitive Baptist Church is just north of the Pennsylvania border and was out of range of Jackson's guns. More than 100 soldiers were treated in the church. At least nine died, according to historical society records.

Tucker's painting, a night scene, shows a mule-drawn ambulance parked in front of the church, light from its windows and doors the only illumination breaking up the darkness. Two soldiers are carrying a wounded man into the church on a litter under Dr. Blake's supervision while, off to the side, two more soldiers, arms around a wounded comrade, are walking him to the church.

Tucker's use of color - the dark red of the brick church, the blue shadows off the snow, the ray of light from the windows - add to the somberness of the scene.

Though renovated some over the years, the old church still stands. Tucker visited the church and looked at old photos of it so he could recreate in his painting what it would have looked like in the 1860s.

Tucker's painting will be turned into prints signed by the artist, but unframed.

They will be available starting next weekend during Fulton County's three-day annual Strawberry Festival.

According to Mary K. Hoover, executive director of the tourist promotion agency and the county's Chamber of Commerce, the prints will be sold in McConnellsburg at the Fulton Theater Welcome Center and the Fulton House Museum.

They also will be available at the Tonoloway Church on Saturday and Sunday when Civil War re-enactors relive the events of January 1862 and the church-turned-field-hospital.

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