Prolific Painter Also Helping to Reinvigorate Hampton Neighborhood in South St. Louis

    A St. Louis artist is turning heads with what he even describes as behavior that’s slightly obsessive.  From his incredibly prolific amount of work, to his “hands on” approach to building a new gallery, Jared Minnick it getting attention.

    The story begins with his painting.  Minnick had an artistic flair when he was younger, but let it fade.  He picked up his paint brushes again back in 2012 as a hobby, painting a few pieces over the next two years.  Then, he says, came 2014.

    “In fourteen a switch happened,” he says.  “Between 14 and 15 I did over 100 paintings.  It just consumed me. I started doing it every weekend. Every Friday and Saturday night.”

    And it didn’t stop. He now has some 280 completed works, along with 50 more he is working on.  Those numbers don’t include countless others he started that simply didn’t make the cut.

    It’s a lot of work which takes up a lot of space.  Cue the next obsession.

    Two years ago he and his wife bought a building on Hampton Avenue.  It is essentially a business duplex.  On one side, they’ve housed their surveying business.  Yes, Minnick also runs a business full time as his “real job.”    They saw the other side of the building as the spot to put the paintings.  This would become the 31 Art Gallery.  It would be a home for all his work, and eventually other artists, as well.

    But there was a problem. The building was long abandoned and in a bad state of disrepair.  This is where Minnick found another obsession.  He renovated the entire place, almost entirely with his own two hands.

    “Just something I loved doing,” he says of the two-year project.  “Couldn’t wait to get here every Saturday and Sunday morning.  And just doing little pieces at a time. Learning. Just kind of like my art. Teaching myself.  Studying on my own online.  Reading things. Just trial and error.”

    The gallery is in the Northampton neighborhood of south St. Louis.  It’s an area that never died, but certainly became sleepy for a while.  Now business on this stretch is picking up, and the Minnick’s two businesses will be a part of it.

    “It is a big part of wanting to add to the neighborhood and add to the area, and be something that people around here be proud to have in their area,” he says.

    Inside those people will find brightly colored images, mostly of female models.  Minnick works from pictures it finds while scouring the internet for images that move him.

    “I work from found images, photographs.  So the one social media thing I do use is Instagram.  So I follow a lot of models, a lot of photographers.,” he says. Sometime I’ll see a photograph and it just speaks to me.  The model, the person will grab me and that will turn into a painting. I will see a photograph and just instantly say, ‘I have to paint that.’  The expression, the feeling I get from it.”

    There is overflow work from the gallery on the surveying side of the building.  Minnick’s wife Amy, who runs much of the surveying operation, quietly taps away on a keyboard with her husband’s works watching over her. She describes herself as “the Hampton widow,” laughingly referring to her husband’s endless projects.

    This raises a question. Would he prefer to make art his full-time job?  It would seem a logical way to give himself a little more free time.  But Minnick isn’t biting.

    “I have to be honest. I do love owning the survey company, too.”

    So for Jared Minnick, it will continue.  Surveying, full time, prolific amounts of painting on the side, and running a gallery with a touch of neighborhood building, while rehabbing buildings with the time left over.  We forgot to ask when he sleeps.  There was no time.

    “It became an obsession,” he says. “I hope a healthy obsession.  But it became an obsession.”

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