Meet self-taught artist Nick J. Garafola. This St. Paul native who calls Midway neighborhood home began hand painting cars on wood in 2003. His creations are inspired by the muscle car scene on University Avenue and Porky’s drive-thru, and harken back to a long-gone era when American-made muscle cars ruled the streets of any town USA. His renderings of Chevys, Fords, and Chryslers from the ‘50s, ‘60s and today are richly detailed versions of the original machines.
Thanks to Garafola’s hard work, focus and luck, he’s gotten progressively better at the craft of painting with acrylic on wood, even though the only formal art training he ever had was his 7th grade art class at Ramsey Jr. High.
His influences range from works by local masters of the Twin-Cities graffiti scene, to the masters of the Italian Renaissance period. Garafola chooses to paint on wood just like the Italian masters who’s works adorn the churches and museums of Florence, Italy where Garafola lived and worked as a dish washer in his early 20s.
“When I first began painting I used lettering enamel, which was nice because the color really popped, but it was really gooey paint, and I had to use solvents to thin it. Then some graffiti friends coached me to use acrylic instead—right away I learned that acrylic was a lot easier to work with, and the quality and detail of my work improved dramatically. when I'm finished with a painting I coat the image with a UV protective sealant—these paintings are engineered to stand the test of time.”
Over the years Garafola has amassed his own fleet of painted dream cars. Now it’s your chance to own one of these American-made monsters for yourself!