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Artist's brush strokes a wide swath

By using differing styles, the Pasco sister portrays her varied life experiences.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 19, 2000


A visitor to the Pasco Art Center's current exhibit would be justified in thinking that the show features several artists.

Along two walls of the main gallery are rows of abstract watercolors in hues of black, brown, gray and beige that look something like sand dunes with sea oats, but are titled "Buffalo, New York." A third wall holds bright oil paintings of banana plants and tangerines with an island flavor reminiscent of Paul Gauguin.

An adjacent gallery has collages of feathers, string, orange raffia and other objects that give the feeling of deepest Africa. A third gallery is centered around a large oil painting/collage with items from Amsterdam mixed with images of the Netherlands -- a wooden shoe, bright tulips and canals.

The styles and subject matter suggest the works of many artists, but they are, in fact, the work of just one woman -- Sister Candice Tucci, a member of the Sisters of Saint Francis from Stella Niagara, N.Y.

"It all comes out of the experiences I've had," Sister Candice said. "Each experience brings a different response." An explanatory booklet and commentary offered at the center expound on this theme. Some are quotations from philosophers or poets, others are Sister Candice's own observations.

The Buffalo, N.Y., images flowed from her childhood in her native city. The African images came from the three years she spent with the Wasubi Tribe in Tanzania. The American Indian themes emerged during her seven years working with the Brule Sioux on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

"We had very minimal supplies, so I used what I could find -- feathers, paper I brought with me," she said. "It was a wonderful time for me, learning about people and cultures and God all at the same time."

At present, Sister Candice is director of public relations at the Franciscan Center in Tampa and lives in the small west Pasco community of San Antonio. Besides her regular duties, she also plans retreats and gives programs geared toward spiritual development.

She recently traveled to Amsterdam to see where her order was founded, a trip that resulted in the large collage in the third gallery that incorporates a small painting of a Franciscan nun teaching three small girls, a photo of the back of the mother house, the title page from An Interrupted Life, the Diaries of Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman in Holland during the Holocaust, a photo of a nun behind barbed wire, and admission tickets to Anne Frank's house, the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum. The juxtaposition of happy, sad and tragic images is striking.

"I guess I felt some of the pain that they experienced during the war," she said.

The exhibit is named "Spiritual Voyager" and is described as "an incredible collection of artwork which physically and spiritually connects you with the universe."

An artist's reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. today, with music by guitarist-flute player Dave Shepard.

A gallery walk led by the artist will be given at noon June 16.

The exhibit remains at the center through June 29. Viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

At a glance

WHERE: Pasco Art Center, 5744 Moog Road, Holiday

WHEN: 5-8 p.m. today

ADMISSION: Free

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