Jim Drain: Saturday's Ransom


of an Exhibition

by Carolyn Sickles

Published on December 30, 2010

  • Description:

    Commanding attention from public participants during the contemporary art submersion of Art Basel Week in Miami Beach requires praiseworthy merit. As I curated my visits to this year’s art fairs, galleries, and collections, top priority was placed on environmental uniqueness. Annually making the cut was alternative non-profit art space Locust Projects, which encourages artists to experiment without traditional gallery limitations. A selection committee reviews proposals from an individual artist or collective with a solid conceptual basis. Current exhibition, “Jim Drain: Saturday’s Ransom”, stay’s loyal to Locust Project’s institutional mission through the format of a temporary site-specific installation.

    Awareness of Drain’s ‘ultra’ multimedia approach to art making contributed to my anticipation of the exhibit. Specifically a shared affinity for knitting sealed hope in an encounter with a soft inviting sculptural space full of unexpected material surprises. An attempt was made on my part to avoid the typical opening night gallery crowd—reliably littered with more oenophiles people watching then art enthusiasts discussing the work. I arrived at Locust Projects in the Design District before cocktail hour ready to kick off a refreshing evening of art outside of cubical partitions, an art fair standard.

    As I entered the gallery, final rays of the Sunshine State’s celebrated light poured in over my shoulders. The few moments it took for my eyes to adjust seemed like a radiant blur. Every surface was drenched in saturated hues reminiscent of South Florida’s coral reefs. A 360 degree turn ended as I faced the large storefront windows. Translucent stripes of colorful acetate and papers adorned with melted crayons covered the backlit glass surface. Beams dyed fire engine red and canary yellow scattered the expansive concrete floor. Amongst the colorful patches were a few playful abstract sculptures and functional benches constructed from wood, plastic easter eggs, metal pipes, and fibers. Jim Drain partially collaged the walls with images of body builders and the Virgin Mary surrounded by painted whirls. Open spaces included patchwork drawings resembling crude stained glass.

    Reading the press release made available to the public clued me in on Drain’s intention to “merge psychedelic formalism with 
elements from art history and pop culture.” This new work revisited his memories as a young Catholic and the evolution of this religious connection. Drain’s childlike aesthetic was very palatable. Themes included male sexual development and the maternal bond, both topics lost in the rainbow that is “Saturday’s Ransom.” Trying to tackle such serious aspects of humanity with ridiculous imagery felt lacking. My own recollections of a Catholic childhood don’t lead to such a silly place.

    I am passionate to see that institutions continue handing over conceptual and aesthetic freedom to the artist. The institution provides the space; the artist fills it. Even though I did not see eye-to-eye with every decision Drain made, Locust Projects should be applauded for providing another publicly engaging exhibition.

Latest Comments (3)

I want more

by Kathleen Mclean - January 02, 2011

images and description. How large is this installation/ How long will it be on view? What else is in the space? This sounds intriguing, but I can’t quite get a sense of it.

Additional information...

by Carolyn Sickles - January 02, 2011

Evening Kathleen! I am happy to add to my description of the exhibition and more images are posted at your request. I was excited to see that additional photos could be uploaded.

Drain’s installation covers the entire Locust Project exhibition space (2,700 square feet- floor plan made available to artists has been added into review images).

In addition to the mentioned cathedral inspired windows extending an estimated 55 feet, the gallery floor included a few whimsical human size abstract sculptures (one covered in jumbo googly eyes) and bright functional benches built with metal painted handicap rails. Walls had a mixture of intimate sized panels of stained glass drawings made of crayon, multimedia collages, and childlike hand print murals. The entire space left me thinking about confession, guilt, and finding a nostalgic candy shop…

The exhibition was on view through the end of December. Please let me know if you have any lingering questions…



by Kathleen Mclean - January 03, 2011

—this is great

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