Art in Phoenix continues to bloom. No longer exclusively known for its dry heat and bleak landscapes, downtown Phoenix is sprouting an art scene and Justin Queal is the pioneer paving the way.
The Phoenix based sculptor and painter has created quite the name for himself. Most recently famous for his murals at Squid Ink Sushi, Queal masterfully entwines colors to create a dizzying dis- play of truly unique art. Through intricate textures and highlights, Queal brings a sense of drama into each piece he creates.
What started as a “leap of faith” in 1997 has evolved into a move- ment with a passionate following. While working on Mill Avenue years ago, Queal found a gig live painting at a jazz and blues club. After immediate success and positive feedback he quickly earned a noteworthy spot in the Phoenix art scene.
Doing live paintings is difficult skill to have. While many artists walk tentatively up to the easel with a singular idea, Queal took a unique approach.
“I would set up next to the band and start working,” Queal ex- plains. “You can feel the energy through live performances and you channel that energy into the work.”
After trying his hand at live painting, Queal’s artistic sense erupt- ed. He is able to construct loud works of art by channeling the environment around him. Most significantly, he is able to take a simple piece and transform it into a work of genuine originality.
During a live painting “I get bored if I have a concept in mind al- ready,” Queal says. “If I go into the space and don’t have some- thing I pull it out of the feel of the moment. It is really exciting and it puts on a pressure that builds and builds until all of a sudden you start running free with it and people (watching) feel that too.”
It has been 16 years since the artist’s humble beginning. He re- cently earned the spotlight in “Phoenix New Times” and Arizona
Foothills Magazine” proving his art resonates with Valley residents. While media attention has been beneficial to his success, his big- gest accomplishment is his contribution to Phoenix’s emerging art scene.
“Art is a funny thing when you put value to it,” Queal says. “The key to succeeding though is creating value. We all crave value.”
For Queal, valuable art is the experience it brings to others. Con- veying his surroundings through his art is the difference between a mediocre and exquisite piece of work.
“You can make a magical home experience by creating some- thing that brings good energy into an environment. I try to artic- ulate the unseen energy,” Queal says.
His inspirations do not end there. Women are really what make Queal tick.
“One thing I always gravitate back to is the beauty of women,” he says passionately. “I like to pick women as a subject matter because beautiful women are one of the highest experiences we have. It gives me this high ceiling to bring beauty into the world and if you do it well, it will feel like a beautiful woman.”
Queal is a rare artist of his kind. His timeless pieces and his ability to tap into his senses set a distinct scene others would be unable to explore without his vision.