“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

UA Press Treasure, Part II: Folk Artist, Remade

Tin Man is a triple play for The University of Alabama Press.

Lucas cov des2.indd

This new book about folk artist Charlie Lucas is a gift, plain and simple, for the eye, mind, and heart. It brings together Lucas’s art, Chip Cooper’s photographs, and Ben Windham’s narrative skills into a visual story of the magic in the human spirit that can redeem a soul, make art, and know life intimately, despite deplorable odds.

Left to right: Cooper, Lucas, Windham, and art

An added bonus in Tin Man is Georgine Clarke’s insights into the art. Clarke is Visual Arts Program Manager at the Alabama State Council on the Arts and founding director of the state’s nationally known Kentuck Festival. Yes, it is “folk art,” but it creates a path to a broader art world through his “formal aesthetic values combined with a consistent vision and purpose.” Yes, it belongs in Alabama’s strong folk art tradition, capturing the state’s diversity and special character, but its thematic foundations “speak to the world as well as to his neighbors” of Pink Lily and Selma, Alabama.

CHARLIE-PINK LILY Charlie Lucas in Pink Lily

We call his materials recycled. He calls himself recycled. His pieces range from small iconic items to sculpture to wall art to life-sized statues to large murals created by discarded metals, paints, whole buildings, garden hoses, picture frames, tools, wheels, wire and fencing, and cloth.

BEINGTAKENAPART Being Taken Apart

CARRYINGAHEAVYLOAD

Carrying a Heavy Load

 

After his serious truck accident, he explains that he had to reinvent himself: “And that’s when I feel I was really free from the old Charlie Lucas. The Tin Man was the new part of myself.”

“I had a professor come down from Yale to study me. I mean, they didn’t come down just because I was a person out in the woods, they wanted to know how could I have this knowledge about stuff when I didn’t go to school and I couldn’t read.”

BLUEMADNESS Blue Madness

Cooper’s 150-plus photographs capture the spirit of the art, in some ways better than an exhibition of a limited number of pieces could. The latter section of Tin Man is an art gallery of photos that capture the depth and breadth of Lucas’s work.

CAVEMAN Caveman

Ben Windham, retired journalist and editor with The Tuscaloosa News, currently writes a Sunday column, Southern Lights, for the News: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20091025/NEWS/910249958/1216/OPINION01?Title=SOUTHERN-LIGHTS-Learning-not-to-accept-some-lessons

Tin Man also showcases a university press working at its best level, offering a first-class book on a sometime overlooked topic, folk art in this case; a book that showcases a treasure unique to this state and of interest to the nation; and a topic as presented through the eyes and ideas of experts.

GRANDMOTHERINBLUE Grandmother in Blue

GROWINGTREES Growing Trees

To order Tin Man on line, go to: http://www.uapress.ua.edu/

To order by phone, call: 800-621-2736 or 773-702-7000; to order by FAX, send it to: 800-621-8476 or 773-702-7212.

To inquire about Charlie Lucas’s folk art pieces, contact Chip Cooper at ccooper@ur.ua.edu, 205-348-8329 or 205-454-2335.

JUMPINGOVERTHEFENCE Jumping Over the Fence

BORNONTHECOLOR Born on the Color

For a broader look into Cooper’s photography, go to Southern Artistry at http://www.southernartistry.org/. Click on “Photography” and find Cooper in the alphabetical listings.

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