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Walgreens Windows

Walgreens Windows


Happy Ending [1] is a two-part exploration of late-night text messages, fantasy encounters, reaching out for help, searching inwards, searching outwards, ocean crossings, marine detritus and being lost in the sea of life.

Pre-dating radio, International Code Signal Flags have traditionally been used to signal from one boat to another without any other means of communication between them. Raised as beacons, they signal urgent messages. Today, abbreviated codes have become the way of communicating in alternative forms, through hash tags, memes, DM’s and SMS they unite and empower. Hinging on strategies of communication in an impossibly complex world, the flags reflect anthropological truths and explore the human need to communicate.

Being alone in the vast ocean of modern communication is not unlike being lost at sea. Hoping to fill the void that rumbles like a belly without food, sometimes one needs to send out an SOS to avoid spending another night forlorn. This series of flags translates a theoretical text message conversation during a late night trek; fishing for action through dating apps, old flings and potential affairs. Using the International Code Signal Flags as a basis, the compositions further code both sides of the exchange, creating a new visual language: “HEYY”… “CULA”… “U UP”… “SRSLY”… “COAT”… ”NAGI”… “WAYW”… ”ORLY”… ”FYEO”… ”GTFO”.

On the other side of the installation, the panoramic wunderkammer reflects the mighty Atlantic Ocean, historically the subject of illustrious British Naval paintings of the 1700’s such as those by JMW Turner. The Atlantic once visible from Collins Avenue, now largely serves as backdrop to spring break selfies and is blocked from street view by monstrous development. Created from the artist’s lifetime collection of sailing ephemera, the diorama draws inspiration from classic seascape paintings, Arte Povera, and the frenzied start of a sailboat regatta.

Justin Hayes Long (b. 1980, Miami) lives and works in Miami, Fla. He received his MFA from CalArts and attended the Residency of the Americas at the Darling Foundry in Montreal. Long has had solo shows at IRL Institute, Emerson Dorsch Gallery and the Hollywood Art and Cultural Center and appeared in group shows at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, American University Museum, The De La Cruz Collection, Spinello Projects, Sculpture Key West, White Box Gallery, Sara Nightingale Gallery, Bas Fisher Invitational, Angels Gate Cultural Center and the Wight Museum. His work is an investigation of the maritime world and the relationship between cultural identity and landscape, with a strong interest in the historical, sociopolitical, aesthetic, and literary connections with contemporary society and the traditions of recreational sailing.

[1] Title inspired by images from a page from Alan Sekula’s photo-essay and book Fish Story (Düsseldorf 1995, p.62), where they are accompanied by the caption: ‘Conclusion of the search for the disabled and drifting sailboat Happy Ending’.

The Walgreens Windows project space is graciously funded by Walgreens, in partnership with The Bass, and is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts, and Culture. Featuring emerging artists on a rotating basis, this collaboration furthers The Bass’ mission to present contemporary art to the surrounding community, in order to excite, challenge and educate.


Photography by Zachary Balber.