Together with Dolf James, the venerable artist associated with so many urban arts ventures, opens a new space in Riverside. Metro Jacksonville correspondent Rob Tabone reports from the opening party and show.
If you know anything about the Jacksonville art scene you know the name Jim Draper. Last Friday he opened his new studio on Park and King (in what was once the Whiteway deli) to a large and lively crowd. Together with fellow artist Dolf James, who has an adjoining studio, they orchestrated the night fluidly as the crowd ebbed between spaces. Dolf exhibited a series of pieces involving various chairs cross cut with wooden structures and Draper displayed a sample of naturalist paintings on assorted Florida locales and wildlife.
Draper paints naturalism as it's meant to be, accessible and realistic. He explores Florida's wild with a keen eye for detail and a great passion for aesthetics. The most notable pieces displayed were depictions of animals with on a blank white canvas, isolated from their natural environment. One in particular is a sheep with small patches of color surrounding it that seemed too allude to the idea of natural space. Each's internal space was defined with a simple graphite line about one third of the way down the canvas. Though he said he isn't quite sure if he's done with them each piece most certainly stood on it's own and provided the crowd with a favorite for the night. Both artists demonstrate technique and insight I have yet to see in Jacksonville's younger folk
Dolf's floating chairs and Draper's animals in endless expanse placed the focus of the night on space. The old deli provided no conflict between the aesthetic and physical world, in fact if anything the venue enhanced the perception of the work. A lot of work went into renovating the place for the showing, the end result being a sense of what can be described as educated grittiness. The front room had an upscale feel with white walls while the side room had exposed ceilings and peeks at the several decades old structure's insides. Dolf's space consisted of primarily exposed red brick, a feature that heightened his pieces domestic feel.
Draper wanted to make it clear that he has not opened a gallery but rather found himself a studio. He emphasized for artists the importance of creating a large body of work and focusing on process as opposed to exhibition, "It needs to be less about a big show, I wish everybody was a bit more present and forceful," he said "but its starting to move that way." Let's hope he's right.
by Robb Tabone