born 1957, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Although Charlie has given permission to be called an ‘Art Car visionary,’ he prefers being called a folk artist rather than a visionary artist and doesn’t mind being called a man/child or an eccentric. He feels a kinship with folk artists because he believes they make their art with whatever is available. This is exactly what he does when he’s creating art vehicles from everyday appliances and found objects.
Regardless of Charlie’s title preferences, he is a self-taught artist. He learned by selling cars and antiques for 20 years, trusting his instincts, and asking other art car creators to teach him the tricks of the trade. He has been interested in art his entire life. Since childhood he has practiced, while making elaborate decorations for his bicycles, many of the skills he uses today. Also, while growing up he wanted impossible things like a rocket ship, a motorized bicycle, a submarine, a flying car, and things more wonderful than anyone had ever seen. According to Charlie, his art has enabled him to make these things and share them with the world.
Although some may find his artworks to have a childlike simplicity, making art vehicles requires advanced planning and expertise. This art form must be roadworthy. Therefore, Charlie’s focus is on making them mechanically sound as well as artistically to his liking. When a project requires expertise beyond his skill level, he is not too proud to seek help.
Charlie keeps many of his creations on display in his driveway. People often leave notes for him. One of the notes said, “My worst day is made better by driving by your house.” It is his hope that the art bike displayed in this exhibit will bring his viewers a touch of whimsy, surprise, and happiness.