Jack Early: What To Do With A Drunken Sailor?
Forever & Today, Inc. original commission featured in Off-Site Presentation:
In What To Do With A Drunken Sailor?, a sailor disembarks from a ship to relate his tale in song. Written and performed by Early, this improbably optimistic tune, "It Don't Rain in Beverly Hills," reflects his desire to reclaim innocence lost by an industry built on manufacturing images—an allegory as fitting for Hollywood as for the New York art world.
Shot on location in New York, Early's four-minute film recalls the concept musical film shorts of legendary solo artists such as Lee Hazelwood or Serge Gainsbourg. For Early's singing performance of "It Don't Rain in Beverly Hills," he appears under dramatic lighting, with his last name "EARLY" in the background. This conjures an aesthetic from 1960s, '70s, and '80s-era "music videos" of hit songs by big acts filmed on-set for BBC programs like The Old Grey Whistle Test and Top of the Pops, or late-night American musical variety shows such as The Midnight Special.
Early's practice reflects diverse media, including sculpture, performance, film, music, and painting. He collaborated with New York artist Rob Pruitt during the '80s and early '90s to create instantly recognizable and often humorous work as Pruitt-Early. To pursue the subjectivity of the single artist's viewpoint, Early diverged to focus on solo music, performance, and theater works. In his ten-year self-imposed absence from the art world, writing songs, and listening to music have been his primary inspiration.
Writing music led to his recent reemergence with renewed vitality as an artist, as witnessed by his psychedelic day-glow Victrola record player installation, Jack Early's Ear Candy Machine (2009), featuring a Pink Floyd-meets-Yoko Ono aesthetic. He has also exhibited small-press editions of colored vinyl records and CD box sets with his own music, multi-media assemblage paintings, and cut-out life-size figure sculptures of pop musicians and TV/film icons, among other recent works.
Of all the songs written by Early, "It Don't Rain in Beverly Hills" is unique in that it has taken on a life of its own. Released in conjunction with The Andy Warhol Museum, musicians Dean & Britta were commissioned for a version that is included on 13 Most Beautiful...Songs for Andy Warhol Screen Tests as a soundtrack to Edie Sedgwick's screen test. It has also received significant airplay and been featured in a major TV show.
Jack Early (b. 1962, Raleigh, NC) lives and works in New York. He attended the Corcoran Museum School, Washington, DC; Wesleyan College, Rocky Mount, NC; and North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, NC in the 1980s. Recent solo exhibitions include: John McWhinnie at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, East Hampton, NY (2011); Daniel Reich Gallery, New York (2011); Southfirst, Brooklyn (2009); and E31 Gallery, Athens, Greece (2008); with group exhibitions at Teverina Fine Art, Cortona, Italy (2010); and E31 Gallery, Athens, Greece (2005); and projects at Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2007) and Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2007), among others. Early was represented at Art-Athina, Athens, Greece (2009).
As part of the collaborative duo Pruitt-Early, solo and group exhibitions include: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada (2010); Palazzo Grassi, François Pinault Foundation, Venice, Italy (2010); Tate Modern, London, UK (2009); Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York (2005); David Zwirner Gallery, New York (2003); Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York (1998); Center for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (1993); Duke University Museum of Art, Durham, NC (1993); Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany (1993); Air de Paris, Paris, France (1992); Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (1992); Castello di Rivoli, Museo d' Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli, Italy (1992); DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece (1992); FAE Musee D'Art Contemporain, Lausanne, Switzerland (1992, 1991); Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York (1992); Rudolph Zwirner Gallery, Cologne, Germany (1992); 303 Gallery, New York (1991, 1990); APAC, Centre d'art Contemporain, Nevers, France (1991); Carnegie Mellon Art Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA (1991); Centre d'art Contemporain, Nevers, France (1991); Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne, Germany (1991); Gallery 400, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL (1991); Stuart Regen Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (1991); Galerie Esther Schipper, Cologne, Germany (1991); Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (1990); Stux Gallery, New York (1990); White Columns, New York (1990); American Fine Arts Co., New York (1989), and others.
Early has been featured through writing and projects in such publications as: Art & Auction, Artforum, Art in America, Artscribe, Arts Review, Elle Decor, Flash Art, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, TimeOut New York, and Vogue, among others.
Special thanks to Amelia Abdullahsani, Richard Agerbeek, James Bell, Geoff Bentz, Lewis Chu, Jeff Clark, Brad Clymer, Ken Habarta, Louky and Bart Keijsers Koning, Nick Kramer, Nikita Liamzine, An Pham, James Pham, Andy Plovnick, Sara Shaw, Jasmin Sian, Somsack Sikhounmuong, Jasper Sebastian Stürup, Stewart Thorndike, Ken Yip, and O Zhang.