Charlie Lucas (photo courtesy of Marcia Weber Art Objects, Inc.)

CHARLIE LUCAS
Born 1951
Lives Prattville, AL

I think the word "genius" is highly over-used these days, but if there's one artist I've met that deserves the term, it's The Tinman, Charlie Lucas.

Charlie completely blows me away. His words are almost poetic in how he describes his work, how simply he can convey the message of a piece and let you see the power and inspiration behind it. His ability to see hidden shapes and forms in common objects is amazing.

His large yard is a wonderland, filled with huge sculptures that he's made from other people's trash. He takes the garbage and refuse of the world and turns it into something beautiful. When you see his sculptures, there are so many levels that strike you. First you see the whole work and enjoy it simply for itself. Then, Charlie will tell you the title of the piece and a story about it, and it will take on new meaning. As you continue to look at it, you start to notice the components, all the pieces he's put together to make the whole, and you start to grasp his true genius.

"The Little Boy" (1987)

Although he's best known for his metal sculptures (hence the nickname "Tinman"), Charlie is also an accomplished painter. His paintings are usually a lot more affordable than the sculptures (at least for my budget). When asked what he was thinking or where he was when he painted a particular piece, Charlie will reply, "I was in the painting." "The Little Boy", above, is an early piece. Charlie tells me it shows a little boy exploring his world, seeing all the wonderful things out there and seeing what he can make from those things (which strikes me as highly autobiographical). "One Of My Housepets" is inspired by "the rats and the roaches that we all live with."
"One Of My Housepets"

Sadly, I can't show you any photos of Charlie's environment or sculptures here. When you go to see him, be sure to leave your camera in your car. Charlie gets upset when people take pictures of his garden (I had to borrow a photo of Charlie himself for this page). He's seen many photos turn up in books, which someone else sells and makes money from. Charlie figures that since he made the work pictured, some other person shouldn't be profiting from it.

But don't let that throw you off. He's a fascinating man, and his home is easily accessible from Montgomery. Put him on your list, he's a must-see.

 

Woodie Long
Jake T. McCord