Old and rusty means beauty for painter | SteamboatToday.com

Old and rusty means beauty for painter

Autumn Phillips
What: Opening reception for new work by Cully Kistler When: 5 to 8 p.m. today Where: Sleeping Giant Gallery, 623 Lincoln Ave. Call: 879-7143.

If it’s old, rusted and abandoned, Cully Kistler can find the beauty in it. She finds them in fields, behind barns and on blocks next to garages. She sets up her easel next to these old pickups, lying like elephants, and she paints what she sees.

Her brush doesn’t lie. She records the smashed windshields and flat tires.

When asked why she finds them beautiful, she says simply, “Doesn’t everyone?”

In her own driveway, Kistler has a ’64 Cadillac that she is rebuilding slowly. She gave it a new engine and interior and is working toward a new paint job. It’s an expensive hobby for a woman who cleans houses for a living, but it’s her passion.

Steve Brown let her wander around his property in search of a muse. He must have known what would inspire her.

She wandered around the barn and saw a huge red 1950s Chevy stake bed truck.

“He has a bunch of old trucks out there, but when I saw that one, I had to paint it,” Kistler said.

The painting, “Steve’s Stake Bed,” will hang alongside several other ruminations of old pickups, such as a 1951 Ford. Kistler saw it in a field waiting for repairs. She never met the owner and doesn’t know where the truck is now.

She has others — a painting of a green truck with a smashed windshield titled “Target Practice” and a 1947 Jeep.

“I think my subject matter appeals to men, but if you look at it closely, you know that it’s not painted by a man,” Kistler said. “I don’t like modern art, but I try not to be too realistic. I hold the brushes at the end to keep the strokes looser.”

Kistler always paints in oils. The slow-drying medium was useful during her years as a mother of young children because she could return to it again and again.

“When I paint, I lose track of time,” she said. “It’s like a new dimension. If I don’t paint, I’m not happy.”

Beyond her truck paintings, Kistler has a recent series of buildings from across Routt County. Viewers will recognize the schoolhouse on Twenty-mile Road, the Catamount barn or another barn that sits next to County Road 129 near Clark. Her paintings are as much landscape as still life, as the subjects seem to comment on their surroundings.

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