Santiago Michalek

Santiago H. Michalek was born near Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he started drawing as a young child. His first exposure to art came from his grandfather.  Santiago remembers how his grandpa would draw horses for hours with him while sitting on the veranda of their home.  From those initial crude horse sketches Santiago has emerged into a refined artist whose inspiration comes from the things he is the most passionate about -- capturing the human element of day-to-day life.

He loves to draw and paint the human figure. And Volkswagens—Yes Volkswagens. Santiago started his own business in 2003 restoring vintage Volkswagen bugs and buses.  What started out as a hobby, tinkering with a bug in his garage, turned into a profitable business with multiple restoration projects at once; working from his own shop. His interest in, and extensive knowledge of the vehicle, enhances his ability to portray its magnetism in his paintings.

A turning point for his art came when Santiago began attending The Bridge Academy in early 2009.  This is where his self-taught skills, and talent, as well as a lifetime of painting and preparation, really started to come together as he studied under Sean Diedeker and Justin Taylor.

Santiago currently resides in Provo, Utah, with his wife Elizabeth.  They are the proud parents of two little budding artists who love to draw buses with their dad.

In my ongoing exploration of the human condition I always go back to one of the things I am most drawn to - the Volkswagen.  Why do we love them so much? I'm fascinated by peoples' obsession with them. I have always been looking for the spark that would start the fire of my work. Buses were the missing igniter that has allowed me to connect and share with more people than I could have imagined.

My paintings in concept are simple but despite that simplicity I intend my work to create feelings of nostalgia.  Everyone has a story or memory of a Volkswagen. Just like busses ignited the spark for my paintings, my paintings can spark memories.  Maybe it's a childhood memory, thoughts about a first car, recalling what you drove while in college or the car repairs you had when newly married. I'm not just painting my life, my condition; I'm painting our collective reminiscent history.


  • 2010 - Communal Restaurant, Provo, Utah
  • 2009 - Spingville Art Museum, Springville, Utah


  • 2010 - Award of Merit, Springville Art Museum's Spring Salon