Vanity Fair: *V.F.’*s Guide to Art Basel: Jim Drain

By Carrie Carlise

If, by chance, you’re on your way to Florida to attend this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, which opens on Thursday, you’re a lucky person who’s about to be walloped. Inside the Miami Beach convention center, more than 250 galleries will present their best, newest, or most salable works to tens of thousands of buyers, artists, dealers, curators, journalists, and members of the art-loving public. This might be barely manageable, if only the neatly ordered booths were the sole attraction. During the first week of December, fleeting opportunities—intellectual, social, and hedonistic—pop up all over town. There are smaller art fairs (such as Scope, Pulse, and Nada) and the biannual Design Miami fair, which this year will cohabitate with Basel at the convention center.


Across Biscayne Bay, in Wynwood (the city’s principle gallery area), the Design District, and elsewhere, museums, private collections, and galleries open exhibitions and stage special events. In Miami Beach, hotels accommodate not only fair workers and visitors but also temporary art installations, parties, concerts, and promotional events, ideally outside by the pool. Well-funded public-art projects crop up everywhere. And there’s always Miami Beach’s warm aqua surf.



You’ll undoubtedly miss many wonderful things, for lack of time, stamina, or inclusion on certain guest lists. But to make sure it’s not for lack of *knowledge,*we sought counsel from five longtime inhabitants of the art world—artist Jim Drain, editor Ingrid Sischy, curator Vito Schnabel, artist Jennifer Rubell, and gallerist David Maupin—who told us about their projects in Miami and made suggestions for what to see, where to go, and what to think of the week.


Born in Cleveland, mixed-media artist Jim Drain has lived in Miami for five years.


“I’m working on a couple of things that will be up during the fair. One is a giant outdoor public artwork, a piece of vinyl 455 feet long, that’s being installed on a fence in the Design District. The idea for it started with these melted-crayon drawings I used to make growing up. What you do is put paper on a hotplate and apply crayons, and then make drawings with the wax as it seeps into the page. The paper becomes translucent, and we used to put the drawings in our kitchen window.


Last January, I did that for the window of a store in Los Angeles called Ooga Booga, and it spurred all these different ideas, remembering being a kid making these things. Long story short, with the fence project, it’s a tiling of crayon drawings I made recently with high-school students, mixed and matched with photographs of the site, and printed on a piece of vinyl that spans the entire block. It kind of looks like weird stained glass.


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November 30, 2010