Jim Drain is a master collaborator. A member of fondly remembered Providence collective Forcefield and a cofounder of artist-run Miami gallery Bas Fisher Invitational, Drain has also worked on several public projects, including an installation for the Moroccan embassy that he produced with students from the Rhode Island School of Design.
It’s no surprise, then, that Drain’s first New York exhibition in 10 years was realized with the help of other participants, specifically students from Detroit’s Wayne State University. Nonetheless, the fabulous, furry, often-freakish objects and images here are immediately recognizable as products of a singular—and singularly playful— imagination.
“Utopia Muscle” (the title comes from novelist Junot Díaz’s conjoining of optimism and activism) features an array of casually flamboyant sculptures made from multicolored, multitextured agglomerations of material, including ribbon, rope, twine, Plexiglas, chicken wire and recycled clothes. Interspersed between these looming, shaggy forms are the painted stones of an equally eccentric “rock garden,” embellished with glitter, fabric scraps and plastic toys to create tiny dioramas. Three jewel-like paintings round out the show, among them Jazz Kills Nazis in the Peaceable Kingdom; as far as propositions go, the idea of music defeating fascism sounds like a good one to me.