As an adult, Jack Early has already done all the things you and I would like to do. He made installation art cool. He had the first bad-ass white beard. He was a southern raconteur before the Johnathan-come-latelies. He was the lord of Times Squares both new and old. He hosted a party at Richard Artschwager’s house where the ceilings leaked blood. He’s put a severed finger in a Mountain Dew can. He and Tim Gunn go way back and he hung out with Grace Jones at the peak of her partying career. Having done it all as a grown up, it’s natural that his latest work should turn to his childhood.
To be specific, the show at Fergus McCaffrey explores Jack’s childhood from roughly 9-12 years old “and all the memories that come before that.” Of course, Jack already had style at age 9. “I was a little hippy from the age of 9-12. Can you imagine? It was the late 1960s.” Jack suffered from asthma as a child and was confined to his bedroom surrounded by wallpaper that his mother let him pick out himself. Young Jack chose a charming toy soldier design that has become the backdrop for both his gigantic Popsicle paintings and as his vintage porn paintings.