The big pictures of James Drake come framed in heavy steel. Some weigh 1,500 pounds. Like everything he makes, they're objects on the border. They're both public works of art and private meditations. They're paintings yet they're sculptures. They're as intimate as nighttime fears, as belligerent as tanks.

Six are on display in his Gallery One exhibit, "James Drake: Place and Passage," at the Corcoran Gallery of Art through Nov. 11.

They are never quick-hit objects. He shuns the easy read. Drake lives in El Paso, where the shallow Rio Grande draws a line between prosperity and poverty, Protestant and Catholic, Mexico and Texas, and the spirit of that borderland -- with its whores and its barbed wire, its mesquite smoke and its shadows, its machismo and its pieties -- is the muse that he invokes. CLASSICAL

Nobody can say, at this point, when we will be hearing concerts again at the Library of Congress, where planned renovations are eons behind schedule, but hope has been abandoned for this year and next. Meanwhile, concerts from the Library of Congress will be resumed this week on a limited scale, with the Juilliard String Quartet, performing Mozart and Ravel Thursday and Friday at the National Academy of Sciences.

Other chamber music series opening their seasons this week include the 20th Century Consort, Saturday at the Hirshhorn Museum; the Takacs String Quartet, Saturday at the University of Maryland; and the Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Georgetown, which will present the Apple Hill Chamber Players Saturday night. Two foreign chamber groups are visiting Washington this week: the Palladio Ensemble, from Switzerland, today at Strathmore Hall, and the Hugh Fraser Quintet, Thursday at the Embassy of Canada. Also worth noting: the Washington Chamber Society, tomorrow night at the Montgomery College Performing Arts Center, and violinist Leland Chen, Tuesday night at the Terrace Theater.

The time slot usually occupied by the National Symphony Orchestra will be filled by pianist-conductor-comedian Victor Borge, Thursday and Friday evenings at the Kennedy Center.

Marc Blitzstein's neglected, classic American opera "The Cradle Will Rock" -- an allegory on the evils of capitalist greed -- will have six performances, beginning Friday evening, at Catholic University.

Two winners of major international piano competitions will be playing here this week. Brian Ganz, winner of the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud competition in Paris, makes his Kennedy Center recital debut Saturday in the Terrace Theater. Haesun Paik, winner of the William Kapell Competition, plays today at the Lyceum in Alexandria. Also today: pianist Stephanie Sebastian at the Phillips Collection.

The Boston Symphony, conducted by Seiji Ozawa, Saturday in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, heads the week's list of orchestras. Others include the National Gallery Orchestra, conducted by George Manos tonight; the National Chamber Orchestra, Friday night at Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Saturday at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre; the Georgetown Symphony, today in Gaston Hall; the Alexandria Symphony, Saturday at T.C. Williams High School; and the Prince George's Philharmonic, tonight at Northwestern High School. On Tuesday night, the U.S. Navy Band will celebrate its 215th anniversary by performing a pops concert featuring actor and martial-arts expert Chuck Norris as guest narrator, in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

Two concerts for devotees of non-Western music: Ganga, a local family that performs Bengali music, tomorrow at the Round House Theatre; and "Sacred Drums," featuring American, Brazilian and Japanese drummers, Wednesday at the Ellington School. DANCE

The San Francisco Ballet winds up its Kennedy Center Opera House engagement with a final performance this afternoon of artistic director Helgi Tomasson's new production of "The Sleeping Beauty," with ballerina Elizabeth Loscavio in the title role. Marta Renzi & the Project Company perform at Dance Place this eveniang. An Aboriginal troupe from Australia, the Tjapukai Dance Theatre, appears at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall tomorrow and Tuesday nights. The Washington Ballet makes its debut in the Kennedy Center's annual ballet series with two programs at the Opera House -- an all Choo-San Goh program, including his "Double Contrasts," "Momentum" and "In the Glow of the Night," Tuesday through Thursday evenings; and Fernand Nault's "Carmina Burana," George Balanchine's "Donizetti Variations" and John Cranko's "Holberg Suite," in four performances Friday through Sunday. The Claudia Murphey Dance Company presents two premieres and other repertory at George Mason University's Harris Theatre Thursday through Saturday evenings. Led by former Bolshoi star Shamil Yagudin, a troupe of dancers from Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev will perform under the banner Stars of the Soviet Ballet Friday evening at Montgomery College in Rockville. Virginia-based solo performance artist Larry Goldstein appears at Dance Place Saturday and Sunday. POP MUSIC

Pianist Mal Waldron and saxophonist Chico Freeman explore jazz duology tonight at the One Step Down.

Personality and memories abound as Lloyd Price joins the Stylistics, Delfonics and Manhattans at Constitution Hall tonight.

"Sacred Drums," percussion with a purpose, brings together Max Roach, Mongo Santamaria, Milton Cordona and Babatunde Olantunji Wednesday at the Duke Ellington School.