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Rust of the West


This site is a celebration of what I like to call SouthRustern Art.

I am a watercolor artist. I have lived in the American Southwest - Los Angeles, San Diego, Tucson and now Las Vegas - all of my life.

For most of that time, I have been fascinated by the sight of harsh desert sunlight on weather beaten metal. I have tried many times to describe this feeling in words, without much luck.

Because I can't adequately explain it, I paint pictures of it instead.

Southwestern vs Southrustern

Images of the West/Southwest have long been popular in American art.

Classic West/Southwest art features cowboys, horses, cattle, wagons and native americans; it attempts to faithfully render them as they appeared in their time.

The subjects of SouthRustern art are metal objects accelerating into oxides across the great expanse of the American southwest. It shows them as they are now and invites you to imagine their past.

Why all the cars?

Although I do paint my share of signs, trucks and miscellaneous hardware, I find American passenger cars from the 1950's through the '70's the most evocative.

To me, all cars have stories. Because travel is central to many life-changing events, cars can become pivotal, albeit inanimate characters in people's lives.

The older the car, the more distant and mysterious the stories. The cars I paint can be seen as mechanical shrouds worn by the ghosts of a quickly corroding past.

Standing and looking at a decades-old sedan rusting away in a field, I often find myself daydreaming - this car may have sat new on a showroom floor somewhere, it's probably seen its share of weddings, got an expectant mother to the hospital on time, took someone on his last trip home, brought someone else to her new life in the west.

We are not alone

I'm sure I'm not the only one who shares this vision - I have seen work by dozens of artists which I would call "Southrustern". I hope to showcase some of them here, along with my own work.

So, welcome to Southrustern, home of the "New Old West".

Mike Martinet