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Justin Canja, Meet me at the Crossroads

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

Pop Expressionism Artist Justin Canja of PaperMonkeyMovement is with Journalist, Kathryn (Kat) Day of Kat Day Design at MOD Gallery & Space on a First Friday. (Photo by Jeremy Boatright with Kat Day's camera).

Justin Canja is a 36-year-old established Pop-Expressionism artist that is originally from the DC area of Maryland. Canja has been showing in the Crossroads Arts District at MOD Gallery & Space on First Fridays.

Canja of PaperMonkeyMovement or PaperMonkeyArtStudio has his own style and is impossible to miss when his art is hanging in the gallery. Talking with Canja, he talks about the Crossroads compared to his Maryland, DC art area and how it reminds him of home.

Canja’s asked what his art style is, and he replied, Pop-Expressionism and hates to be that artist that is out of the box and coins his terminology, but he likes to pull a lot of influences together from historical references, pop culture, an the titans as well as work from the 80's and smash them all together into one painting.

“Some of my favorites are Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and my personal favorite, Anselm Kieifer, who is all about using an emotional attachment to objects for textures in his paintings,” states Artist Justin Canja of PaperMonkeyArtStudio. “Kiefer is the only artist that I have kind of fallen in love with and is contemporary, still alive, and that I found walking around in an art gallery in DC,”

Justin Canja going through his Swatches that are getting ready to be mailed out to buyers. (Photo by Kat Day)

Every August 8 of each year, Canja creates swatches then posts them on Instagram, and it is first-come, first-serve to buy a unique more diminutive form of art from PaperMonkey. The concept of the swatches is that they are like a sketch but in paint. Each miniature painting could be the rough draft to a larger painting that will be coming out later.

Canja made a big debut at MOD’s June Mannequin Memoirs III First Friday show. As the new kid on the block, Canja captures people walking in the gallery with his magnetic personality and gift of gab.

Justin Canja explaining his work style to some art lovers at MOD. (Photo by Kat Day)

Canja sold Seven paintings his first show at MOD. His art is vibrant and bold and draws a crowd with his unique style of live painting in his area in the front of the MOD Gallery & Space. He is hard to miss with his neon or bright-colored paintings.

Justin Canja talking about his art to a visitor on First Friday in the Crossroads at MOD. (Photo by (Kat Day) )

Canja moved to the Midwest about three years ago and used to do work for a Missile and Defense Company getting the name PaperMonkey, which became his artist’s name. Art comes naturally to Justin Canja as a self-taught artist.

Canja was supposed to be in the article “Visionaries and Artists’ Meet at the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District,” released on September 22, 2021. Unfortunately, scheduling did not align. The new kid on the block in the Crossroads Justin Canja has made a great impression and received well to the Crossroads Arts District. If you would like to see Justin Canja's work, you can find him on Facebook at or on Instagram at or feel free to drop by MOD Gallery & Space at 1809 McGee in the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District! Keep an eye out for Canja's art!

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