When Keith was 13, he was given an article on a motorbike taken from a Hot Rod magazine as this was his interest at the time. What caught his eye though was the picture on the back - a photo of Expression, a model T. This was the first custom paint job he had ever seen, an outrageous psychedelic display of colour true to the era (1969) painted by Art Himsl. It was this that sparked Keith’s imagination and ambition and put him on the road to his lifetime career as a custom painter, hot rod and bike builder.
Art has always been willing to share his experience with Keith and others. So as you can imagine, Keith was really looking forward to visiting him in person. He has an amazing home in the foothills of the mountains. It is a maze of garages and workshops full of his cars, projects and memorabilia. Where do I start?
The garages house a Thunderbird, station wagon, model T and other rods – all with Art’s iconic artwork – like Keith; he likes a lot of colour. My personal favourite was the “Zeppelin” as Art calls it. This was built in 1937 as a prototype motor home and renovated by Art a few years ago. The body work is actually canvas – a challenge to paint. Art has many projects on the go at any time.
The workshop is very well organised –every inch of space is used. The walls are covered in signed photos of Art’s famous, proud customers with his work. There are also loads of templates of his work. The ceiling is used to display his collection of hood ornaments, custom painted bombs and other interesting collections. The spray booth is an immaculate white – a startling contrast to the riot of colour every where else.
I stood back and listened as Art, Jeff and Keith chatted about their work, exchanging experiences and ideas on the materials they use. Who would have thought a conversation about the merits of various masking tapes could be enthralling? The passion these three amazing painters have for their work made this one of my treasured holiday memories.