Local artist Justin Gaffrey's work getting wide recognition

DEBORAH WHEELER

Local artist and a past Walton County Artist of the Year, Justin Gaffrey, is again garnering respect and recognition for his work.

Gaffrey's artwork has recently been accepted into three juried art shows in New Orleans, St. Augustine, and Hollywood, Fla. This brings to 10 the number of art exhibits his work has been accepted into this year, with the venues spanning the east coast from Miami to New York and beyond.

At the Art and Culture center of Hollywood's seventh All-Media Juried Biennial, 383 Florida artists submitted 1,084 pieces of work for consideration, and of those, 88 works of art by 79 artists were selected to be in the show, which will open Sept. 18.

This exhibit is open to Florida artists only and was juried by Marisa J. Pascucci, curator of collections at the Boca Raton Museum of Art; and Elizabeth Cerejido, a Miami-based independent curator of modern and contemporary Latin American art and photography.

The artists represent 21 counties in Florida. All artists in this exhibit were invited to submit entries of contemporary artwork consisting of original paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, photography, video, computer-generated images, performance, and site-specific installations. Cash awards will be presented for Best in Show, First Place, Second Place, Third Place, and Honorable Mentions on Sept. 18. The exhibit will be up through Nov. 1, said Leo Sarmiento, public relations and community partnerships head at the Art and Culture Center.

Gaffrey's piece that is on exhibit there is titled "Attached," and is a 48x60 multimedia piece that consists of graphite, nylon string, steel, and acrylic on a wood panel. Gaffrey describes the piece as representing the strong attachments to the world and how they have a pull on us.

Gaffrey was a self-taught chef until he picked up paint brushes in 2001 and again learned by doing. He has gained recognition for his work ever since, including being named Walton County Artist of the Year in 2006.

His vibrant palette-knife paintings of florals and naturescapes are what he is best known and loved for, but in 2013 he branched out and began creating handcrafted vessels of cypress block textural paintings and sculptures using sheet metal behind plexiglass with metal rods in textural style.

Another example of his new self-expressionistic style is his piece "Protection," a 48x36 multimedia piece that he describes as representing an insect or butterfly wrapping its offspring in a webbed cocoon. This piece is currently on exhibit at the sixth-annual Wildlife Juried Exhibition in St. Augustine, hosted by the St. Augustine Art Association.

Coming up, Gaffrey's "Human Tree" and "Suspended Torso" will be exhibited in the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery's 19th annual No Dead Artists: International Exhibition of Contemporary Art in New Orleans Sept. 2-26.

"Human Tree" is a 6x16x108 cypress sculpture with intertwined welded steel and acrylic paint that he said represents both the dark and light parts of self.

"Suspended Torso" is a 39x34x84 sculpture with a welded steel torso covered in acrylic paint and suspended with steel cables. It represents one being attached to the world from all directions, he said.

"These pieces truly come from my soul that embody my reasoning of truth and the human condition," said Gaffrey. "It is a privilege to be participating in these exhibits with extraordinary artists from around the world."

"This is a remarkable time to be a part of Justin's career," said Brian Wood, Gaffrey's gallery director. "I have worked with him for four years and to experience the evolution of his art is inspiring. These pieces are well deserving of the deliberation they are receiving."

If not in New Orleans, St. Augustine, or Hollywood, see Gaffrey's work at The Justin Gaffrey Gallery, located at 21 Blue Gulf Drive and County Road 30A in Blue Mountain Beach. Just look for his easily recognizable and iconic pieces outside. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For more information visit www.justinmadebyhand.com, www.justingaffrey.com, or call 267-2022.