Many people would think a field full of toilets is disgusting, but for Robert P. Tucker, it’s “Charmin.”
The toilet field, or as Tucker likes to call it, his “sculpture garden,” is made up of 13 toilets, ranging in size, color and models. Before his lawnmower broke down, Tucker used to keep the field maintained. Now, the grass is so tall that — from afar — one might think that it is just a vacant piece of land.
Tucker started his sculpture garden when he saw broken toilets dumped on the side of the road. He hoisted them onto the back of his truck, and meticulously placed them in the field. The old johns became his muse.
“To be creative, you have to be an individual. You have to go in your own direction,” Tucker said.
The 88-year-old first fell in love with art when he saw the work of American painter Jackson Pollock. He is famous for his unique style of painting, called “drip painting.” Tucker was such a big fan that he drove to an art gallery in New York just to see his work.
“You got to be pretty [expletive] stupid to drive all the way over to New York to look at a [expletive] piece of sculpture,” he said.
However, when he got to the gallery, he saw more than 30 people there for the very same reason.
“Hell, I’m not the only stupid one,” he said. “It proved to be a real game changer for me.”
He went on to win many art competitions, including being named Best in Show for a photograph he took of a tree. However, Tucker hardly considers himself an artist.
“Suppose I put statues out here; I’d have to make all those [expletive] statues,” he said. “This way, I just have to drive around until I see where people throw their garbage.”
Tucker lives directly across from the sculpture garden, and almost everyone in his neighborhood knows who he is. According to him, his artwork has received mostly positive reviews.
“One guy did come by and criticize [ the sculpture garden],” he said. “But I love my sculpture.”
Tucker is a retired educator and Rowan (formerly known as the New Jersey State Teachers College) alum. He taught chemistry at Glassboro High School and was the superintendent of Lawnside Public Schools. After his retirement, Tucker spent more than 25 years writing his book, “The History of Elsmere: African American Life in Glassboro, New Jersey.”
Tucker is a man of many passions, but his sculpture garden is the closest to his heart.
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