Artistic Excellence 2012 | Santiago Michalek

2nd Place: Santiago Michalek, Utah

Santiago Michalek, It’s Time, oil, 48 x 48.

Santiago Michalek, It’s Time, oil, 48 x 48.

What inspired your winning entry? I had a business restoring Volkswagen buses for about 10 years. That’s why I began painting them. Before that, I was pretty committed to painting the figure. Although I love painting my VW buses, I really wanted to create a painting that allowed me to return to my figurative roots. It was a simple idea that evolved into something much more. I had an image in my mind of what I wanted, and it made sense to use myself as a reference for the figure. As I painted it, I realized it was not only a self-portrait but also depicted one of the most defining moments of my life. The title, IT’S TIME, refers to the decision I made to take the leap and become a full-time painter. The act of standing in front of a canvas painting, and not in a car shop working nine to five, took the personal meaning of this painting to a level I had never expected.

Where did you study art? I attended the Bridge Academy of Art in Provo, UT, for several years. However, I consider myself to be a self-taught artist, since I knew how to paint when I arrived there. So, I studied art in museums, galleries, books, in artists’ studios, and in my own studio.

How would you describe your style? I work at keeping a pretty loose mark-making stroke, knowing that what I’m looking at is a very tight, angular subject. I feel that the push/pull or balance between those two concepts is the basis for my style.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you? I am a fierce fan of the Manchester United soccer team. I also built my own 1,200-square-foot studio. It took me nine months, and it was one of the most challenging tasks of my life.

What is your pet peeve? People chewing with their mouth open or talking with a mouthful of food.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? I would be unhappy. Or a marine biologist.

What are your goals for the future? To continually improve, to avoid complacency, to push myself every day, to someday create a work of art that makes a difference to someone. Oh, and to be a good dad.

What galleries represent your work?
Meyer Gallery, Park City, UT; Walt Horton Fine Art, Beaver Creek, CO.

Featured in the December 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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