‘Pretty things’ from trash

Published 3:47 pm Monday, April 5, 2010

We’ve all heard the adage ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,’ but rarely can one man actually collect trash, and craft something that can truly be treasured.

“I have the joy and privilege to create what I think are pretty things out of trash,” said Chris Beck a former carpenter turned sculptor.

Beck isn’t the only one who finds beauty in his creations. The committee in charge of selecting the worthy artists to fill booths at TroyFest, seem to think so too.

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“When I get accepted to a jury-show, it’s like hitting the lottery,” Beck said humbly.

That’s just the gig the scrap-sculptor won after sending in samples of his work to TroyFest organizer Stephanie Baker.

“Chris represents what TroyFest 2010 is all about,” Baker said, “bringing art and people together in downtown Troy, particularly with this being the reunion year.”

Beck, the son of former Troy obstetrician Dr. Terry Beck, still calls Pike County home and he said he looks forward to returning. The homecoming will rejuvenate memories of his late father, whom Beck said wholeheartedly supported his endeavors as an artist even though they may have conflicted with his analytical philosophies.

“For him to put his hand on my shoulder and tell me he was proud of me meant so much,” Beck said. “I really have precious memories of Troy and I’m looking forward to visiting them.”

Of course Beck will not be coming home empty-handed, he’ll bring with him an array of metalwork welded with fire, ingenuity and vision.

“It’s metal sculpture,” he said, “it’s very bizarre.”

Beck’s journey in becoming a creator of these pieces was likewise inspirational and unusual.

Not long ago, he and his wife Susan developed an affinity for art that resisted the mainstream.

“My wife and I started collecting art from un-famed artists who didn’t have classic training,” he said.

He was like a connoisseur of vegetables with a green thumb at a farmers market. The more pieces he bought, the more he developed an inner-urge to create.

Beck had to grow his own garden-a garden of steel and tin.

“Around August of 2006, I started bringing home trash, like an old tire rim or some other scrap metal,” he said.

The scavenged goods would be deposited in a small, fenced-in space behind his old home in Atlanta.

“By the end of December that year, you couldn’t get in the back yard there was so much metal.”

“My wife told me, ‘I love you, but this has to stop’.”

Determined to feed his passion, Beck purchased a second hand welder for $50.

After he made his first piece, his wife asked if he planned on making more.

“Well yeah,” Beck said.

“We need to get more metal,” Susan replied.

And the welding torch got hotter.

Today, enough people value his work that Beck has become a full-time sculptor. Ever modest, Beck maintains a down-to-earth outlook on the demand for his “twisted” metal.

“I’m continually surprised, it’s very intimate, it’s very personal,” he said. “It’s so awesome that someone thinks that much (of my work).”

Beck will be one of the talented artists featured at TroyFest this year on April 24-25. Until then, see more of his work at www.cebstuff.com.