Blue Mountain Beach artist Justin Gaffrey enjoys sitting in a corner of his gallery or studio and watching people’s reaction to his artwork. The reaction he usually sees is that of joy.
The idea occurred to Gaffrey that he wanted to share that joy and take it into the environment where joy and peace is most needed: a hospital.
Gaffrey and Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast President Roger Hall collaborated to choose a spot for a piece of Gaffrey's artwork and decided on the surgical waiting room. However, Gaffrey couldn't decide on which wall in the waiting room would be best for his artwork and ended up donating three of his paintings to hang on three different walls in the waiting room.
The three paintings were hung and unveiled at a public reception Feb. 28.
"I am happy to be a part of a community like this one and to be able to help people going through tough times," said Gaffrey. "I watch the people in my gallery and the joy they get from seeing my work and sometimes they get emotional. It occurred to me that there are a lot of people who have just come out of cancer treatment and what a perfect place to bring joy — at the hospital. It's a tough place to be."
The largest piece, which is of sunflowers in his expressive acrylics, is an original created by Gaffrey especially for the hospital.
Sarah Bailey, the hospital's marketing coordinator, said Gaffrey's artwork makes a world of difference in the spaces.
"We had pictures hanging in these spots before but they were nondescript. These make you want to smile," she said.
And indeed, as people passed through the area, all paused and commented on the striking pieces done in golden sunshiny hues of yellow and cream.
"You can judge the measure of the quality of a community's health care by the quality of the community," Hall told those gathered for the unveiling. "We raised $33 million to make the hospital successful. It's a different hospital. Today we bring further uniqueness through the different gifts of artists we have in this community. Justin donated these works of art to demonstrate his care for this community."
Hall presented a plaque to Gaffrey in appreciation for the donation.
The artwork is valued at close to $20,000.
While this is the first such donation Gaffrey has made, he said he would like to find a way to do a very large piece that could be in a public spot and would allow people to envelop themselves in it.