Artist Rafael Navarro
Mixed media artist blends mediums and symbolism to create enchanting artwork.
By Nicole Royse
Images courtesy of Rafael Navarro and Nicole Royse
Local artist Rafael Navarro possesses the ability to skillfully handle a variety of mediums, which results in pieces that combine imagery and symbolism for spectacular visual impact.
Originally from Mexico, Navarro began creating art at a young age. He started with sculpting with clay, which eventually lead him to other mediums.
“Ever since I was a child in Mexico City, I felt the need to create with my hands. I would play and sculpt with anything in my reach. I didn’t possess any fancy toys, so my favorite material was modeling clay. I would make my own action figures and when I was finished playing. I would knead the clay in to a ball to start over again the next day. This hand mind exercise was the actual beginning of my career,” says Navarro.
Navarro’s body of work includes paintings, carvings, metal works, and sculptures imbued with symbolism, spirit, and a high level of craftsmanship. He seamlessly melds his love of music, nature, and life into his pieces, allowing the creative process to take precedence.
His artwork is whimsical and dreamlike with recognizable architecture and subjects. According to Navarro, he draws inspiration from his childhood memories of Mexico, his rich heritage, and from his everyday observations. There are also obvious historical art influences and references evident throughout his work, most notably that of Frida Kahlo, Rene Magritte, and Pablo Picasso.
“The ideas dictate the medium, thereby fostering a strong relationship between the images and materials,” says Navarro.
Navarro currently resides in Downtown Phoenix. There, he has been a vital member of the ever-evolving Phoenix arts community. He’s exhibited his artwork at a variety of galleries across the Valley, including After Hours Gallery, ARTELPHX at The Clarendon Hotel, Legend City Studios in the annual Chaos theory exhibition, Modified Arts, Phoenix College, Tilt Gallery, and Vision Gallery––just to name few. His work has received critical acclaim from curators and academics, in addition to being featured in numerous publications both online and in print including Phoenix New Times, Arizona Republic, Downtown Devil, Java Magazine, and others.
The artist was recently asked to participate in an important effort called the 26 Blocks Project, where he sculpted and painted 26 small wood cubes over six months. This resulted in stunning work that represented the spirit of the 26 blocks.
Navarro can often be found working at The Lodge Art Studio, an integral part of the Grand Avenue community; it’s a studio and gallery space, which Navarro shares with two other artists, Abbey Messmer and Joe Brklacich. Located in the heart of the Grand Avenue Arts district, it’s open to the public every first Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., or by appointment.
Learn more about talented artist Rafael Navarro at rafaelnavarroartes.com.
Explore the Phoenix Art Museum
Head to the Phoenix Art Museum and explore their incredible variety of artwork and current selection of exhibitions. They offer an incredible variety of special events and lectures, docent-lead tours throughout the week, an excellent museum restaurant, and a wonderful gift shop.
Current exhibitions include INFOCUS Juried Exhibition of Self-Published Photobooks on display in the Doris and John Norton Gallery for the Center for Creative Photography. The exhibition showcases 111 selected self-published photobooks from all over the world highlighting selected books using a range of printing technology including offset lithography, digital inkjet printing, letterpress, laser printing, and photocoping. This exhibition will be on display thought April 9.
On display in the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery at the Phoenix Art Museum through Feb. 26 is Eye on Fashion: The Kelly Ellman Collection. It showcases a wide variety of garments and accessories from the over 600 items Ellman has donated through the years. This collection provides a unique look at the fashion history through Ellman’s whimsical sensibility, according to the Phoenix Art Museum website. Ellman joins the ranks of visionary collectors who’ve fostered the establishment and growth of fashion collections in museums throughout Europe and the United States since the 1930s.
Phoenix Art Museum
1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
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