Scottsdale Independent

Where rust meets plastic: a credit card wielding artist at Scottsdale Arts Festival

Memory Lane (Submitted Photo)

There’s a certain attraction to an old, rusty pickup truck sitting in a field.

It’s like a revered elder, with a rumpled collar made up of overgrown vegetation, taking in the view with a quiet reverence for it’s surroundings. It’s an attraction that inspires artist, Martin Lambuth, a press release states.

An award-winning artist, Mr. Lambuth has work in permanent corporate collections and has been juried into a variety of local, regional and national art shows in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Texas, California, Montana and Idaho. He will be one of the juried artists showing at Scottsdale Arts Festival, March 9-11.

Mr. Lambuth said he is drawn not only to the character of these trucks, but to their shapes as well. Shapes are an important element in painting.

And the older model trucks have shapes from cabs with various window configurations to large round fenders contoured over the tires, according to a release.

Then there’s directional signal lights on top of teardrop-shaped headlights perched on top of the fenders, appearing like quotation marks for the elegantly shaped hoods.

And it’s about personality—chrome bumpers and hubcaps reflecting hints of the adjacent landscape and grills that give these venerable buckets of bolts the attributes of an old, familiar face smiling back at you.

Mr. Lambuth says the broader appeal of his art relates to the good old days, as everyone he talks with at art shows invariably has a story of their own about a pickup.

“Patrons of all ages have a memory sparked and share a tale about a truck somewhere in their family tree,” he said in a prepared statement.

Mr. Lambuth is no exception; he recalls a lot of childhood memories involving an old pickup.

Bury Me Not (Submitted Photo)

As kids, they played endlessly in the back of his dad’s truck, camping out in the truck bed and riding everywhere from the grocery store, to the dump, to the drive-in theater. He also learned to drive on his father’s 1955 Chevy.

Other memories take him to his grandpa’s dryland farm in Beulah, Colorado. Several of the stake bed trucks he has painted remind him of his grandpa, the farm and when his grandpa would bring produce to town.

Mr. Lambuth recalls his grandpa having two main crops, sweet corn in the summer and Christmas trees in the winter,

“I remember when he’d pull up in front of our house on his way to market and bring us a bushel of corn on a hot summer day or pluck a tree from the top of the pile and carry it up to our house during a December snowfall,” he said.

From that description, it’s apparent that the appeal of Mr. Lambuth’s art is rooted in sentimentality. Whether it’s rusty old trucks and vintage steam trains, landscapes that recall a special place visited on a road trip, or popular cultural icons of the past, his art is about nostalgia and the history it reveals. A history that’s rich with stories that span decades and inspire the viewer’s imagination.

Although lost in time or forgotten in the weeds, his truck paintings aim to take viewers on a ride to grandpa’s farm or bumping down a country road in dad’s pickup, while old steam locomotives conjure up images of riding the rails or hearing distant train whistles echo from a foregone era.

These memories are like little gems from the past and his paintings help to capture bits of Americana before they change or are forever erased from the landscape.

Not only is Mr. Lambuth’s method of spinning his subject matter unique, but so is his method of painting.

Mr. Lambuth paints primarily with plastic cards instead of brushes or a palette knife—credit cards, room keys and gift cards (expired, of course). This technique lends itself to the weather-influenced patinas created by nature’s paintbrush through prolonged exposure and the effects of rust and oxidation.

But his style is not limited to old, discolored conveyances, as he also uses his technique to paint everything from landscapes to portraiture.

Mr. Lambuth calls his style, “Random Acts of Paint”. Although he has a good idea what to expect, he admits he doesn’t know what the exact result of his “brushstroke” will be.

“When I paint with a plastic card, I don’t have total control over the final results,” he said. “I have an idea what will happen, but I can’t predict it exactly. I can’t make it happen on demand and I can’t duplicate it. It’s a conscious effort to achieve the final effect, but sometimes the results are just happy accidents.”

Another variable contributing to the “random” quality comes from a build up of multiple, overlapping layers. Martin’s paintings have a sense of realism when viewed from a distance, but up close the viewer’s interest is attracted to the interplay of loose textures buried in the layers of rich color.