Jack Early's Ear Candy Machine
Daniel Reich Gallery is proud to announce a presentation of work by artist Jack Early.
Working with three works: a 2009 installation reconfigured: Jack Early’s Ear Candy Machine, an imaginative adaptation of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon; an early 90s Pruitt-Early sculpture of Captain Kirk and Dr. Spock and a painting that includes a portrait of Paul McCartney, the first in a series of new combine paintings; the exhibition is a journey capturing Early over time isolating his specific sensibility. Scatter is important for its reconfiguration of common found household forms. Folk and common experience are at the root of Early’s work as well as American history as remembered in attic items. The reconfigured rainbow of Jack Early’s Ear Candy Machine now loops underground through holes in the gallery floor as sixties figures and an actual turn of the century beer barrel emerge from holes in Early’s combine like creepy white rabbits emerging from the Swiss Cheese of the American brain. After the fall of Pruitt-Early, Early re-approached art making by writing songs beginning in 1994 – one of which has the honor to accompany the Edie Sedgwick screen test of the 13 Most Beautiful from the Andy Warhol Foundation. He has cut a great record – an area in which he didn’t expect to excel and his interpolation of creative energy is part of the story. Jack Early’ Ear Candy Machine feels right now with its graphic surrealist grungy approach and as it passes through the tragedy and enthusiasm of the American story with a compelling beauty of its own.
Igniting folk music, oral history and the American landscape (real and Technicolor), Early invites us to extrapolate meaning and narrative. In folk tradition, the humble materials of the three works distantly recall the hobo ducking in and out of the scene and jumping trains. In terms of the exhibition’s title Jack Early’s Ear Candy Machine, we might think of the inspirational fictional Big Rock Candy Mountain that one might stumble upon in the late twenties folk songs. Lewis and Clark’s transcendental late 18th Century landscape exploration is transmogrified in the twentieth century into the road trip, early space exploration and the mental trip. In terms of the temporal as mirrored in Early’s storytelling, we are reminded of the connectivity of history. For instance the way that the 60s British invasion of popular music is likely described as such because of the Revolutionary War.
Early’s compelling Jack Early’s Ear Candy Machine transmographies the cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon into an imaginative landscape. Shown at the inestimable Southfirst Gallery in 2009, Jack Early’s Ear Candy Machine as it is interpolated here is a seminal Early project which all should see as it was his first foray into exhibiting again nodding to the popular Artwork for Teenaged Boys. As Artwork for Teenaged Boys could work as a laughter inspiring signification of the teenaged boy as in an image of Pruitt and Early strung by nooses (autoerotic asphyxiation was a concern of early nineties journalism) in front of stacked beer cans, Jack Early’s Ear Candy Machine uses Dark Side of the Moon as the holy grail of straight boy prog rock: a genre tracing its lineage to the Beatle’s Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The White Album. In Early’s work, the LP record conveys the idea of a theme album and the visible spatial progress of the needle towards the center of the record recalls the idea of the journey as an Operatic Gesamtkunstwerk of aural experience enhanced by the thinginess of album art. The Gesamtkunstwerk informs the Wagnerian Jack Early’s Ear Candy Machine where light, sound, a prism and a Victrola combine to form an enveloping large illusion. Dark Side of the Moon as a metaphor for the reflective place of total exile Early felt during his art world wilderness years. Some days our lives are lit only at curved edges by aurora borealis light fractation. 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon’s stoner connection to the bejeweled camp 1939 Wizard of Oz film echoes the kinetic warp of Early’s graphic visual rainbow pathway around the room as an endless circuit recalling the pathways of the mind. The mouth of the horn of the foppish white twenties Victrola, constitutes another hole in immaculate whiteness visualizing the amplification of the tiny tinny voice of the needle on the record into a facsimile of full aural presence.
In terms of dimensional landscape, what emerges from Early’s hyperbolic fantasia can be an optimistic or sober reflection. In terms of sober reflections, Pop Life: Red, Black, Green, Red, White and Blue originally shown at Leo Castelli and recently included in the Tate Modern’s Pop Life: Art in the Material World evidenced racial representation in America. In Early’s new combine painting, the juxtaposition of generative Paul McCartney is shown with members of the Manson Family emerging through pop holes constituting a field and noting the dark creepy side of America: an impulse forever extant pushing and shoving its way through cracks. Consequential to Dark Side of the Moon, Early’s combine portrait of Paul McCartney as a hand wrought assemblage, the inverted turn of the century beer barrel slyly nods to Jasper John’s steel macho beer can, seems to ground us as we stumble over it banging our shins.
The Pruitt-Early shown here is a magnificent cutout oil painting of Dr. Spock and Captain Kirk. Like Dark Side of the Moon, Star Trek was an extra terrestrial voyage which introduced an enthusiastic public to the marvel of the teleport in whose circular beams Spock and Kirk stand as though about to disappear. In a show with so much materiality shared by Spock and Kirk cutout on board, the teleport as a transit hub offers the possibility of the immaterial soul vaporized on its way elsewhere. Dr. Spock and Captain Kirk definitely constitute an odd couple and for Pruitt-Early, works like this were a bit of a which one are you game? In the nineties, it was argued that the viewer as a consumer of mass culture actively created new meanings and narratives for popular characters so deciding whom to identify with was important. The same is true of adults watching contemporary movies now. Everyone identifies with someone. So pop function is a tabula rasa, which we see contemporary times on Facebook where one flags what one likes in a new way to flag that one is “cool.”
As in folk tales where the story ends where it began and for all the times that human’s have tried to transcend their gravitational attachment to the earth with aspirations like airplane flight: over time such marvels are integrate from wonder back into ordinary being. It is all very much like the populist message of The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum which is in its legendary advocacy of a currency backed by practical inexpensive silver rather the glitz of expensive gold which takes us to the cosmopolitan Emerald City, whose fabulous Wizard turns out to be a machine assisted mirage. In this regard, Early’s work always retains the admirable quality of being down to earth while riding off into the distance like a stardust cowboy.
JACK EARLY has exhibited in the United States and Europe, recently including exhibitions at Southfirst in Brooklyn, NY and E31 Gallery in Athens, Greece. Pruitt-Early’s 1992 Pop Life: Red, Black, Green, Red, White and Blue exhibition at Leo Casteli in New York, was recently rediscovered in Pop Life: Art in the Material World at the Tate Modern in London, 2009. As part of Early-Pruitt, Early has exhibited with 303 Gallery, David Zwirner, and Gavin Brown Enterprise in New York, NY, and with François Pinault Collection in Punta Della Dogana, Venice. Born in North Carolina he lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.