Charlie Lucas

Down a terra-cotta road, one house leaps at the eye. Its mailbox is held by a scrap-metal man. On a strip of whitewashed fence, a gawky scrap-metal bird perches beside a weathered, hand-made metal airplane. Nailed beneath them is a sign, "Tin Mens."

It's just cast-off stuff people throw away," Charlie says. "Like people who've been cast off, and everybody thinks they're worth nothing. I've been there, beat up, broken down, at the bottOm. But I had this dream in my head and that made me more than a piece of junk."

The son of an auto mechanic, Lucas started using tools early on. With fourteen children sharing one rattletrap bike, he had to wait until night to get his turn. With no money for toys, he had to make his own. He comes from six generations of folk artists, combining his grandfather's mechanical and automotive skills with his grandmother's basket-weaving and his great-grandfather's blacksmithing, to create his own unique style of sculpture.

His work history varied, and after working at a hospital as a janitor, he had an accident that led to back surgery. The intense pain became the impetus for his creative surge. He bends, welds and twists aluminum wire of larger than life people and beasts. He also paints on boards, often of his favorite animal, the dinosaur. Lucas claims to "make toys for me to play with." He hopes in "these toys" to convey compassion for mankind and other meaningful messages.

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