photography by Delia Johnson

Art Break: Studio Snapshot with Rafael Navarro

Written by Nicole Gimpl Category: Arts Issue: April 2018
Group Free

Phoenix sculptor and painter Rafael Navarro draws inspiration from musical instruments and the city’s big blue skies.

Rafael Navarro loves musical instruments, despite not being a musician himself, finding beauty in their shape and structure and capturing that with his paintings and sculptures. Originally from Mexico City, Navarro grew up surrounded by skies cloaked in a drab gray. When he moved to Phoenix in 1989, he was in awe of the cloudless, light blue skies above the city. When he began seriously working on his art in 1995, the cerulean and powder blues of the Phoenix sky found their way into many of his paintings, including one of the iconic Westward Ho building in Downtown Phoenix. Navarro has been at The Lodge Art Studio in Phoenix for nearly four years and shares the cozy space with two other artists. The Lodge is open to the public during First Fridays and March’s annual Art Detour.

Navarro’s sculptures of musical instruments can take up to three months to craft, while his paintings can take as little as a week.

He uses blue and earth-tone acrylic paints in his renditions of guitars, cellos and upright basses.

Navarro jokes that “if aliens picked me up and dropped me back down somewhere in the city, I would know where I was,” because of the Westward Ho.

Many of his paintings are awash in light blue. “I think I use it because, being from Mexico City [I saw a lot of] gray skies... I came here and the skies were blue.”