The Art of Life

Equanimity: A Poem by Artist Justin Gaffrey

To say that we here at VIE love Justin Gaffrey’s art would be a colossal understatement. Since he began using his unique style of “sculpting with paint” to bring our beloved 30-A area to life in 2001, many locals and visitors have enjoyed watching the creative growth in his work. From the originally primitive, folk art style to the three-dimensional landscapes and flora he has become nationally known for, Justin’s work seems to be constantly evolving along with his experiences and emotions.

In 2012, his Sculpted series sprouted from an experiment inspired by the driftwood horse sculptures in Alys Beach, Florida. “the spirit of the horse.” The idea became an 8′ x 6′ equine masterpiece using about 300 pounds of paint. Justin’s lovely and passionate director, Christy Milliken, says “It was a labor of passion to discover new territory within Justin’s evolving creative mind and spirit.”

The driftwood horse gave way to Justin’s ’sculpted’ style and was followed by a series of fauna creations and experiments including deer, owls, alligators, and even a scorpion. His bold depictions of the wildlife that surrounds us here in Northwest Florida is raw, yet mystical in the way it seems to come from the magical world beyond his canvas.

But even more magical, as VIE publisher, Lisa Burwell,┬ádiscovered today, is Justin’s ever-evolving spirit. He created over 500 works this past year, and shared with us that next year, he hopes to decrease the numbers in favor of doing bigger, more prolific pieces that reflect his recent shift in mood. With a tremulous leap into even newer waters, Justin reveals that his current vision is much more introspective, bringing his emotions and inspirations to the canvas like never before.



As his first piece in this soul-exposing collection, Equanimity,┬ásuggests, there are many great things to come. Justin’s inspiration for this piece was drawn from a recent trip to the Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, where he viewed the sculpture Hare on Bell by Barry Flanagan. There Justin saw life hanging in the balance of desire, peace, and love, and from there evolved a sketch (main photo), poem, and, then, new painting, with the hare as a focal point. Read more about this journey and discovery on the Justin Gaffrey blog, view the painting, and read the poem below. We hope it will inspire you as it did us, with visions of creativity ever-flowing and a peaceful, well-balanced life for the coming new year. Thank you, Justin!

Poem: Equanimity

Balanced by the grace of fearlessness,

Sprinting through monolithic judgements,

Empty Confidence,

Where is my ego?

They can’t hurt me anymore.

Love by the grace of evaporating moments,

No more bondage of intellect or ignorance,

No pride or humility,



By Justin Gaffrey

{All images via Justin Gaffrey blog.}

Read more about Justin’s work and his journey in VIE’s Sept./Oct. 2012 (cover story) and May/June 2013 issues.

3 Comments to Equanimity: A Poem by Artist Justin Gaffrey

  • Christy Milliken

    Thank you VIE for your support of the vision and inspiration of Justin!! The deliverance of Jordan Staggs’s writing always brings the entire experience to completion!! The inspiration of the driftwood horse was not inspired by the piece in Alys Beach, he actually saw those after the creation of his acrylic sculpture. He previously viewed work of sculpted horses that did inspire. The horse photographed above was created a day after a trip where a discussion about the spirit of the horse took place. It was later that people mentioned the Alys Beach sculptures, so Justin finally viewed the amazing work of that artist. Another horse sculpture by Heather Jansch was seen during the visit to Minneapolis. The new direction of work is profound and exciting!! Thank you VIE team!

  • Isabel Smith

    I went back to your web site searching for the poem about looking within, shedding the skin — something like that, and came across the “Let It Be” poem. A lot of poetry just skims… but your poetry does what poetry, in my opinion, should: move the soul. And because of that power of poetry meant to be, some poets can twist the soul, but your poetry sets the soul free. I can relate to those feelings very much and come out of the depth refreshed. I hope you find it in your heart to illustrate and publish your poetry.

  • Jordan Staggs

    Hi Isabel!
    Sorry the images for this post no longer seem to be working. I believe that is due to changes we’re making to the website.
    I think the poem you were looking for is “Namaste” by Justin Gaffrey? You can find it on his website here:
    Thanks for reading!

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