January 25, 2012

Das Auto Magazine - VW Owner Profile

It is always an honor to be featured in a magazine but especially when its a magazine exclusively for VW owners!

Volkswagen Owner Profile: The Artist

visit Das Auto to view the article
Meet Santiago Michalek, whose passions for painting and restoring his favorite old cars—Volkswagens—have merged.

Some artists fixate on certain subjects. Think Andy Warhol and the 32 Campbell’s Soup cans, or those haystacks Monet couldn’t leave alone.
Then there’s Santiago Michalek, a Provo, Utah, figurative painter in the style of Norman Rockwell, who less than two years ago started devoting his canvases to painting vintage Volkswagen Beetle and Bus models, and now has completed close to 100.
“I wouldn’t say it’s an obsession,” Michalek says, “but pretty close.”
An artist since he was a child growing up near Buenos Aires, Argentina, Michalek also has a garage where he restores vintage VW models. When the weather’s nice he leaves the door open, and two or three times a week when he’s under a Beetle with a wrench in his hand, somebody with a smile on their face stops by with a fond memory of camping with his or her grandfather in a VW Bus or taking a convertible Beetle to go surfing.
“I’ve heard so many stories about people and VWs,” says Michalek, who paints in oil. “Everybody has been in one or driven one. You look for a subject that is true to what is around you so that there is validity in your work. I realized VWs have, for me, been a great way to connect with people.”
About half of Michalek’s VW works are in private collections and he’s been accepted into prestigious galleries and shows such as the Springville Museum of Art and the Meyer Gallery in Park City, Utah. Clearly, these works resonate with people. The vintage works, “so simple but so versatile,” he says, especially seem to carry stories that can take people back in time.
“[The vehicles] were super affordable and functional,” Michalek says. “They won so many people over because of their affordability and their functionality. I just love them to death.”
Obsession? Maybe. But Michalek is far from alone.

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