BEAVER CREEK — Santiago Michalek is living the American dream. Born near Buenos Aires, Argentina, Michalek moved with his family to Iowa and then Utah at the age of 6. As a young child he spent a lot of time drawing horses with his grandfather. Michalek remembers warmly sitting in the veranda of his childhood home and learning the basic of drawing under the old man’s guidance. Those intimate moments sparked a lifelong passion in Michalek, who has been advancing his craft as an artist ever since.
Michalek’s new work is on display at the Horton Fine Art gallery in Beaver Creek. The artist will be painting in the gallery there today from 1 to 6 p.m.
In 2003, Michalek started his own business, restoring vintage models of Volkswagen Beetles and buses. He successfully turned his hobby of tinkering and love for these vintage vehicles into a profitable business with multiple restoration projects. He also noticed that VW owners shared a devoted passion for vintage Volkswagen vehicles.
Their contagious passion became Michalek’s love affair and compelled him to develop a near encyclopedic knowledge of VW makes and models throughout the car company’s history.
“As an artist, I celebrate the things that are sometimes difficult to fully render in words, particularly qualities associated with passion and fascination,” he said. “What drives human interests? What elements compel the human spirit? How can I convey the most elusive emotions though my art?”
With these questions in mind, Michalek used his own personal passion for vintage vehicles as inspiration for his artwork. Vintage tractors, trains, fishing boats, old, rusty Volkswagen buses and cars are often the subjects of his artwork. There is a sense of nostalgia, of melancholic retrospective into a culture and easiness of life that remembers and celebrates a more at-ease lifestyle and tempo.
“In concept, my paintings are simple. I paint Volkswagen vehicles, capturing subtleties in the interplay of light on metal and paint,” he said. “The interest in my work lies in the allure and iconic charge associated with vintage Volkswagens. Everyone knows a classic VW when they see one: the curved lines, unmistakable paint and delicately rounded bumpers. I strive to evoke the near-mythical elements that surround these vehicles — elements that are palpable, vivid and utterly indelible — sparking memories which, as a culture, unite us. I often learn stories surrounding the vintage VWs that I restore in my garage. These stories bring my artistic work to life. I am not just painting what I do for a living. I am painting the collective reminiscent history of several generations spanning the world.”
For further information, contact Horton Fine Art at 970-949-1660.