Marine Corps Logistics Base, Calif. -- If you were examining art at an exhibition in Las Vegas or Los Angeles, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t guess one of the artists performs maintenance work at a military installation in California’s High Desert.
During normal working hours, Anthony Plummer can be found virtually anywhere on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, ensuring the base runs smoothly by working in several areas of maintenance. During his off-time, the 40-year-old can be found hard at work on other projects: primarily his artwork.
The Oakland, Calif., native began painting shortly after his passion for art was discovered.
“My fourth grade art teacher told me I had an eye for art,” explained Plummer.
“It makes sense since I always liked art, music, and dance,” he added.
His artistic side lay dormant for most of his childhood and adolescent years for various reasons despite his love for it.
“While I was playing football in school, I didn’t do much painting; I didn’t have much time for it,” Plummer said.
During Plummer’s time in school and while playing sports, he suppressed his artistic side because of what other people might have thought. He explained that many of the guys he played football with, and later served in the Marine Corps with, might not have understood why he liked art so much or may have seen it as "unmanly."
After high school, Plummer spent nine years in the Marine Corps as an artilleryman. During those nine years, he deployed to Somalia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Japan. Back home, Plummer had a difficult time adjusting to life and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after his time in the Marine Corps.
When he left the Marine Corps in 2000, Plummer landed a job at MCLB Barstow as a maintenance worker, up-keeping the water systems and other facilities in need of repair. It was in this phase of his life, Plummer started back up on his artwork again after nearly a decade-long hiatus.
“When I started painting again, people saw it and started asking me to do something for them,” Plummer explained. “Before I knew it, I was getting paid to paint.”
There may be many people on base who know of Plummer’s artistic talent but many more do not. Those who’ve seen his art and the luckier ones to have pieces done for them are more than content with the paintings.
“I was at the barracks with Mr. Plummer while he was working on maintenance one day and we started talking about painting,” explained Cpl. Nicholas Williams, the assistant barracks manager with Headquarters Battalion, MCLB Barstow.
“I was really impressed with his work after he showed me a few pictures of his paintings. I even asked if he could do one for me,” the Dallas native added.
Plummer’s painting style and technique help make his work unique and distinguishable. His paintings are normally interpretations of pictures people bring him, usually of people he doesn’t know personally. He often incorporates a gold coloring in parts of his work to bring attention to a particular spot on the painting, something he wants the viewers to notice, he explained.
Many of those who have become fans of Plummer’s artwork discovered him by word of mouth from those who’ve commissioned him for a painting.
“He had done a painting of Marvin Gaye for me,” Williams said.
“After I got the finished work, I was so excited I had to tell people about it. The man has a God-given talent,” the Marine exclaimed about his painting he now proudly displays in his barracks room.
Plummer has displayed his work outside the High Desert as well. Recently, he had a painting displayed at an exhibition in Las Vegas.
Although he loves painting during his off-duty hours, Plummer has every intention of keeping it that way and doesn’t wish to try to pursue it as a full-time career.
While working at National Training Center Fort Irwin for a short time, Plummer spoke with other veterans who were displaying symptoms of PTSD and, after being diagnosed with it himself, was part of a study to observe veterans functioning with PTSD. It was around this time Plummer noticed the therapeutic nature of his artwork.
“I use it as a way to relax. It helps me express myself,” Plummer said.
“It really helps me deal with my PTSD,” he added.
After he retires, Plummer plans to spend more time painting. He plans to work on more contemporary pieces.
To see a piece of Plummer’s work, look for the opening of MCLB Barstow’s historical gallery where he’s donated a painting of Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller to display.