At Folk Fest, one sculptor helps another with the mettle to create

Funny, the two artists who will be among those presenting their wares at the 21st annual Folk Fest this weekend don’t look related.

But Charlie Lucas, one of the undisputed folk masters manning one of the 90 booths that will show and sell mainly rustic-styled art at North Atlanta Trade Center starting Friday night, insists that fellow Alabama native Chris Beck is his son.

This despite the fact that Lucas, 62, is African-American, and Beck, 38, is, well, white.

There are other differences, too:

Sculpture and paintings by Alabama folk artist Charlie Lucas will be on display this weekend at Folk Fest. CONTRIBUTED BY KELLY LUDWIG

>>Though he radiates smarts and is represented in museum collections across the U.S., Lucas completed only a fourth-grade education. He received early lessons from his blacksmith great-grandfather and basket-maker grandfather, but is largely self-taught, turning to art-making only after injuring his back in a timber-loading accident in the mid-1980s.

>>Beck, by contrast, attended Hampden-Sydney College, a small Virginia liberal arts school where he signed up for every introductory art class that was offered. Yet it took nearly a decade after he graduated for him to figure out sculpture was his calling, and he taught himself how to weld through trial and error.

>>Lucas, who lives in Selma, Ala., is best known for his found-object assemblages of spent car parts, rusty tools and the like, usually depicting people or animals, that he assembles in a most imaginative manner.

>>Based out of Dalton, Beck mainly transforms reclaimed rusty metal sheets into sophisticated wall-hanging sculpture, depicting clothing such as nostalgia-evoking sundresses and three-piece suits. He paints these with a light hand to look realistically worn and to allow the material’s rust and bends to peek through.

Still, Lucas tells everyone that Beck is his boy, and the younger artist readily acknowledges that the “Tin Man,” as Lucas is known, has been a fatherlike figure, especially in terms of helping him find his artistic voice.

Read more about Chris Beck and Charlie Lucas, and other examples of shared inspiration among artists at Folk Fest, on our subscriber site,


Folk Fest

5-10 p.m. Friday: Meet the Artists Party and show opening ($15, includes readmission all weekend and T-shirt); 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. $7 (free for 16 and younger). North Atlanta Trade Center, 1700 Jeurgens Court, Norcross (exit 101 off I-85). 770-532-1115,

Atlanta Events: More things to do this weekend in Atlanta

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