Just south of the warehouse at 2000 SW Adams, Tom and Jeanine Wester have set up a pair of shipping containers. Their business, Peoria Architectural Salvage, rescues materials from buildings slated for demolition, and the containers are used for overflow storage. But they’re not very attractive.
“We thought a mural by a local artist would be a great way to dress up the containers, invest in the neighborhood, and create visual interest,” Jeanine explains. So the couple turned to one of their tenants, a young artist named Quinton Thomas. “We've been aware of his art for a few years now... We really like his style and use of color.”
Thomas has been drawing since he was a child, and now works in a variety of mediums, including oils, watercolor, pen and ink, graphite, and digital. Recounting the milestones along his creative path, the Peoria High School graduate cites his participation in the Peoria Art Guild’s Mentor Apprentice Program (MAP). “I met a bunch of professional artists… and it left a mark on me.
“I had my first live demonstration in February 2016… at the Studios on Sheridan,” he adds. “It drew a pretty big crowd, which I didn’t expect. I think it was literally that moment when I was like, huh, this can definitely happen.”
After several years at desk jobs, Thomas finally took the advice of a persistent co-worker and became an artist full-time. The mural, completed in December, offers a similar message. It depicts a young girl sitting at a desk, bored but surrounded by daydreams: dragons, rainbows and other fantastic elements. “It’s about letting your imagination run wild,” he explains, “and transcending mundanity.”
It’s Thomas’ first mural—and his first time using spray paint—which presented some challenges, from experimenting with different types of spray paint, to the container’s corrugated surface, to the weather and wind: “my number-one enemy,” he laughs.
Coming off a successful 2017, Thomas hopes to keep the momentum going. And for inspiration, all he has to do is glance at his own mural. “Don’t let others stifle your creativity,” he proclaims. “Follow your dreams.” a&s