Artist Spotlight: Darren Jones

By Christopher Harrity

Originally published on Advocate.com August 10 2013 3:00 AM ET

"Eden’s Remains" is a material, conceptualized essay on the disparate fortunes undergone by gay men living over the past five decades in the Fire Island Pines. The Pines, as most people call it, is a place of remarkable natural beauty as well as one of metropolitan New York’s favorite summer resorts. Scottish artist Darren Jones suggests that, the greatest role the Pines has assumed in the wider world of art, culture, and history is as a barometer and a sort of cultural ground-zero to the ever-evolving experience – both celebratory and somber – of gay life.

Jones pokes at the expectations and rituals on the Island, but without anger or judgment. In "Eden’s Remains", Jones's light touch keeps the wistful and memorial from becoming maudlin.

"Eden’s Remains"
New works by Darren Jones August 16 – 31, 2013
Opening reception Thursday, August 15, 2013, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Illuminated Metropolis Gallery
547 West 27th St, Suite 529, New York NY 10001
Hours - Fri. 1-5 p.m. / Sat. 12-6 p.m. — and by appointment


Flotsam and Jetsam, 2012
Merchandised items from Fire Island weekend
Variable dimensions

A collection of objects presented according to retail display techniques, giving a window into the items that might contribute to a Fire Island weekend, or be discarded after one.

Click through for more of Darren Jones's work >>>


Pumping Irony, 2013
Text intervention on gym motivational board
6" x 18"

These 3 images show my interventions on a motivational chalk board used by trainers and gym users. The comments such as "it's too late for this summer" or "giving up is an option" offer an alternative view to the relentless upbeat messages designed to get people body-beautiful for summer. The anonymous responses by other gym users, to my thoughts created an ongoing back and forth conversation on the chalk-board, sometimes humorous, sometimes challenging.


Pumping Irony, 2013
Text intervention on gym motivational board
6" x 18"


Pumping Irony, 2013
Text intervention on gym motivational board
6" x 18"


Mourning Wood, 2013
Digital image
18" x 24"

Atmospheric shots of the infamous Meatrack between the Pines and Cherry Grove abound, but here the double meaning of the title of the work — slang for a morning erection / the grieving process -  acknowledges two facets of the forest's history. Firstly, as a clandestine meeting place for gay men to meet for sex, and also as a place of reflection, memorial and remembrance to those who fell to AIDS.


Rainbeau, 2013
Digital image and effects
7" x 6"

Muscular body culture, known as the "Chelsea look" is ubiquitous in the Pines. Love it or hate it, it is an undeniable currency in Fire Island. It contributes to the politics of desire and self worth. Often, reaching such a level of physical masculinity oneself, or attracting it, can seem a distant possibility. Here the colored sunspots and refracted light in the image lend a sense of fantasy or aura, to the sanctioned, gay male, ideal presented. The spelling of the title of this work again offers a double meaning.


Anagrams, 2013
Text on paper
8.5" x 12"

A series of words or phrases in red that relate to aspects of the culture, experience or history of The Pines. The words can be "anagramatized" into related phrases that offer another truth or possibility to the phrases in red. Some are difficult or painful to remember, some are humorous.


Economic Growth, 2013
Dollar bills
3.5" x 3.5"

Each flower is created from 3 single dollar bills and emerges from the foliage in the Pines. This work can be seen as a comment on the level of privilege or financial ability associated with being in a wealthy beach locale, or the fantasy that the Pines has always represented. It is up to the viewer to decide if he may, or will take the flowers, if they will be spent as cash or kept as art.


Left Right Left, 2013
Preserved footprint in sand, box
16" x 9"

An attempt to preserve an ephemeral gesture as simple as a footprint in sand. Something that would not normally last more than a few minutes.


Self Portrait as Ghost, 2012
Digital image
18" x 24"

This picture was taken at midnight in winter when the beach was quiet. My shadow which was visible, was diminished to near invisibility in photoshop, barely a mark of my presence is left in the photograph. The grainy effect increases the disappearance.


Duct, 2013
Ocean water, prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, leucine enkephalin, mucin, lipids, lysozyme, lactoferrin, lipocalin, lacritin, immunoglobulins, glucose, urea, sodium, potassium

This ice cube is made of the above chemicals and substances. The chemicals listed constitute the elements of human tears.