Inside the Studio with Justin Gaffrey
May 1, 2015 by Audrey Johnson
“This is my favorite part, hear the bass thumping? Sometimes it’ll be tribal music, and sometimes it’s classical,” says Madra McDonald, Justin Gaffrey’s publicist. Surrounded by Point Washington State Forest, we walk across the gravel driveway into the warehouse Justin built to accommodate his growing creative interests, which now include welding and sculpting.
As we stand on the acrylic covered floor of his now private studio, sculpted flowers and rabbit portraits reflect a more vulnerable side that until recently, Justin thought was too dark to share.
Justin’s decision to move into the realm of contemporary art was simple. “I can’t stop it,” he says. He stands over a large wood panel, painting and wiping and painting and wiping to even out the magenta hue on his latest work, a nude woman standing upright, encircled by rabbits and sculpted flowers - a piece he wants to leave open to interpretation.
Justin leans the woman on an easel to dry, takes off his paint splattered smock and studies her for a moment. Then he grabs a spray bottle and aims it at the yellow flowers. Shades of pink and yellow transform into streaks of orange as they run down the length of the portrait. Satisfied, he walks us to the door and shuts down his studio for the afternoon to prepare dinner for friends - sautéed grouper on a bed of couscous alongside a julienne pear and apple salad topped with panko crusted bleu and goat cheeses. Edible art from Justin.
Justin’s experience with art has come full circle to his serene Blue Mountain Beach gallery where he still lives and works and creates things that make him happy. This includes contemporary works as well as commissioned pieces for loyal fans using the sculpting-with-paint technique that he is so well known for.
Inspiration is just outside Justin's home and gallery in the form of a beautiful SoWal cypress pond - a place for reflection and meditation. And beavers, frogs, turtles, and alligators. Justin is mystified by the complete disappearance a few years ago of every single lilypad.
“I’m ready to move to the next level with my artwork as I shift a portion of my focus to installation art and meaningful pieces,” says Justin. “I want to take the soul of this region with me while I explore new concepts in art using the mediums that have established my original works.”
Brian Wood, Director of Justin Gaffrey Gallery, takes visitors on Justin’s journey starting with the artist’s new sculpted works that feature recurring rabbit and deer figures. Justin identifies with the rabbit because he’s ‘always jumping from thing to thing.’ The old studio, covered in years of paint, now serves as a museum and showplace for the decorative works that were created there.
While Justin’s subject matter varies, his works have predominately been reflections of the natural beauty he finds in and around South Walton. The public is invited to visit his gallery Monday through Saturday at 21 Blue Gulf Drive in Blue Mountain Beach. Visit www.justingraffrey.com or call 850-267-2022 for more info.
Save the date for Metal, Paint and String, a showing of Justin's latest contemporary works, May 6 at 7 pm at Justin Gaffrey Gallery. Enjoy wine, beer, a signature cocktail, and small bites. Metal, Paint & String event is open to the public.