Brush with Greatness

Posted on 4-15-2021

From “The Steering Column”, by Darrel Burnett

Pablo Picasso once mused, “Youth has no age.” Though the two were on opposite ends of the world, Picasso could have easily been describing Michael J. Sponholtz. Blessed with artistic ability from birth, Michael or Sponz as he is known professionally, literally “carved out” a brilliant 30-year career as a professional wild life and snow sculptor before accidentally walking backwards into his youth post retirement.

How fitting that the very place where we celebrate The Automobile is the Art should become the backdrop for telling the story of the Artist of the Automobile. 

From the age of 4, while the rest of us were still velcroed to Dad’s pant leg, Sponz’ art was already turning heads. Thousands of pieces followed over the next three plus decades but never once was an automobile the subject. Come on! How could a guy with an eye for detail like the Hubble Telescope escape painting an automobile? That all changed when Sponz and his wife Jan left the congestion of Milwaukee and retired to Mishicot, Wisconsin, where they settled in a neighborhood full of “car guys”. A neighbor innocently requesting a painting of his car unveiled a hidden talent never before seen in automotive art.

Now, as he closes in on 70, Sponz is a kid again as a large format automotive artist while museums and collectors across the country line up to commission his wonderous works.

Michael J. Sponholtz is accustomed to working on art that is larger than life and I’m pleased to share in this column that that his next subject is our own “larger than life” Founder William “Red” Lewis who we lost earlier this year. It promises to be an emotion-filled likeness of Red reflected in his favorite car, a 1949 Oldsmobile Futuramic 98 identical to the first car he ever purchased when he was 15. I can’t wait to have you visit us at The Automobile Gallery where everything Olds is new again!