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Farmington auto repair shop doubles as art gallery

Local artist Nick Sinclair loves painting, drawing and creating art with an automotive theme. The walls of Impact Auto Repair in Farmington are covered with his artwork because shop owner Jimi Brown is a big fan. Kara Hildreth / contributor 1 / 2
Artist Nick Sinclair created these two mixed media artworks and he hand drew all the fine details. These two are part of a seven-piece series called “Lost Souls, Found Art” that depict the country’s forefathers looking like rebels with tattoos. Kara Hildreth / contributor2 / 2

Life can be quite serendipitous in the way people come into our lives.

Artist Nick Sinclair and Jimi Brown say this is true as they tell the story of how they crossed paths as adults.

The two men attended grammar school in Prior Lake but were not friends.

"I ended up finding Nick again when I worked with his brother in Lakeville," Brown said. "I was admiring Nick's art and I had it up on my computer when Andy came up to me and said, "You like that artwork?'"

Said Sinclair: "My Dad was his soccer coach growing up and we never knew each other."

Come to find out the two men lived in Northfield with their families and connected with each other over the automotive art.

Today the walls inside Impact Auto Repair's waiting room in Farmington are covered with original Nick Sinclair artwork.

Jokingly, Brown calls his shop waiting room the men's crisis center.

"I brag that I have the largest Sinclair collection here and my house is full of it," he said. "We have one in our dining room with our vaulted ceiling that is seven feet long, and we have the Lost Souls artwork. Our house is very eclectic."

Some pieces that hang on shop walls include a few automotive acrylic paintings on canvas and a couple mixed media framed pieces from Sinclair's Lost Souls, Found Art series. The pieces show the country's founding fathers dressed in T-shirts with exposed forearms covered with detailed tattoos of patriotic words, images and important dates in American history.

The Lost Souls series can be considered mixed media art, Sinclair said, as he lopped off heads of images in Photoshop. Then he created his own portraits with heads and hand-drawn tattoos on the founding fathers' forearms.

Sinclair, 40, has loved drawing since he was a boy. His teachers fostered his interest and talent back when his illustrations consisted mostly of comic book drawings and doodles.

"I have always liked cars and I went to Hennepin Tech for engine building but then I realized that was stupid," Sinclair said. He also studied graphic design at Brown Institute. "I knew I kind of liked cars but I did not want to work on cars and I have hammered at that for a while because I knew and liked the subject matter."

Happy his good friend Brown shows his work like an art gallery in Farmington, Sinclair has now branched out. He is finishing art for a winter art show in February.

"Whatever I do not sell, I hang on Jimmy's walls," Sinclair said smiling.

Today he works as a tile worker but plans to become a youth pastor.

Sinclair sells his artwork online on Facebook and Instagram with the tag Art by Sinclair. He also creates custom, commission art and special projects for clients.

When asked why he likes to work as an artist, Sinclair said that answer is complicated and hard to express. Art may serve as an expressive outlet and therapy.

"It is something I need to do, and I guess I do not have an answer for that," he said.

His wife works as a commercial designer for commercial spaces.

"I always want to be evolving and always pushing it," Sinclair said, calling his art a serious hobby.

Now he is hard at work to paint with gel mediums and is working to create detailed, classical art with Biblical themes and of images during the Renaissance period.

"I am working on translucents over translucents, and I am pushing it and that is really fun," Sinclair said.

"If money was not an issue, I would live in a shack in the woods with my wife and get away from people and grow a garden off the grid, or I might get a studio space or a retail space in Northfield if money was not an issue," Sinclair said.

For now, he will keep drawing and painting and is happy he has his own art gallery at Impact Auto Repair.

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