Jim Roark’s Metal Monsters

Jim Roark’s Metal Monsters

June 7, 2022 – September 11, 2022

A Spotlight Exhibit

Jim Roark’s “metal monsters” are full of nostalgia for the glory days of the automobile.  His miniature American classic cars are not your typical miniature collector cars; instead, they are representations of vehicles that have been abandoned, left to rust, and fall apart.  

After years of recreating classic vehicles from kits Roark pondered one day, “What would this car look like if it had been abandoned in the desert for the past 30 years, full of grease, dirt, dust, rust, broken windows, flat tires and lots of dents?” Roark decided to approach his next model with this new twist and his rusted relics were born. He describes his process as building the kit backward, “planning all the way to destroy it and see how it would look all bright, shiny and new and then make it dirty, abused and distressed.Since the 1980s Roark has spent hundreds of hours perfecting the details of his decaying vehicles so to present an authentic, albeit smaller version, of what were once elegant machines. He works with 1:24 scale plastic model kits aging the contents with paint and homemade rust. He also takes 1:32 scale die-cast model cars and literally tearing them apart then antiques them with paint and an assortment of other materials until the vehicles are in a dilapidated state. Roark imparts what he imagines these rusted relics might have lived through, and shares his remembrances of bumpy rides, oil leaks, and roaring engines. You probably have your own stories to divulge about a model you once owned or dreamt of driving.

About the Artist

Jim Roark was introduced to model building as a youth by his father who built old time model ships. Even before he could read the plans the young Roark built his own model cars, trucks, ships and military miniatures. He had an aptitude for art and was encouraged to pursue a career in the field.  

Roark earned a BPA (Bachelor of Professional Arts) in Advertising Design at The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA in 1963. His studies included fine art, architecture, graphic design and offset printing. He worked professionally as a graphic designer, printer, engineer and creative designer for 30 years.  

Throughout his adult life Roark continued to build miniature model vehicles and began creating his rusted automobile relics in the1980s. Though sculpting vehicles is his passion, he also paints, and dabbles in photography. Since retiring in 1992, Roark spends hundreds of hours perfecting the detail of his decaying vehicles so to present an authentic, albeit smaller version, of what were once elegant machines.