Santiago H. Michalek was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His artistic ability presented itself early in life, following the influence of his grandfather, who introduced him to drawing. Santiago warmly recalls how, as a child, he and his grandfather drew horses while sitting on the veranda of his childhood home. Those intimate moments sparked a lifelong passion in Santiago, who has been advancing his craft as an artist and a painter ever since.
In 2003, Santiago started his own business, restoring vintage models of Volkswagen beetles and buses. He successfully turned his hobby of tinkering and love for VWs into a profitable business with multiple restoration projects. He also began to notice that VW owners shared a certain common quirk: each was completely devoted to Volkswagen vehicles, often passionately so. This fierce devotion resonated with Santiago, whose fondness for VWs compelled him to become a master on the vehicles, with a near encyclopedic knowledge of their makes and models throughout the car company’s history.
Though Santiago’s paintings naturally reflect his love for vintage vehicles, he also enjoys painting and drawing a broad range of subjects, particularly the human figure. In his work as a figurative painter, Santiago strives to capture the essence of day-to-day existence, rendering unforgettable figurative images with the clarity and refinement present in his VW paintings.
He currently resides in Highland, Utah, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their three budding artist who all love to paint just like their dad.
“In a word I am painting ‘time’ broken into three parts. Let’s take a steam train, for example, to me it has 3 different histories – first, the overall history of how trains revolutionized industry and the mark they made on the world. Second, the story of a specific engine -when it was built, repairs, routes traveled, time and decay, restoration or abandonment. Then third, there is our story, the story of us – the gandy dancers that laid the tracks, the engineer who drove the train, or the family that took a trip across country in a passenger car. People ask me if I am a historical painter, the answer is no. I am not painting the train in a station in 1920, it would have very little to say. I am painting that train today with 100 years of stories to tell. That is why it is interesting to me.”