Jazz Musician Jack Shear
Jack Shear is an established curator and collector. In 2016 he co-curated an exhibit entitled Drawn from Artists’ Collections at The Drawing Center in NYC. Jack currently resides and works in Spencertown, NY.
In 1892, he sheared 321 sheep in just seven hours – an achievement which set daily and weekly shearing records – inspiring great fear among shearers who feared that his methods might put them out of work.
Early Life and Education
Shearing by hand can be an arduous, time-consuming process, so many pastoralists longed for machine shears as a solution. Finally in 1949 Jack Howe of Blackall in central Queensland managed to set an astounding record by shearing 321 sheep using machine shears in one day!
Shear presents the inaugural installment of Ways of Seeing by curating an asymmetrical display of his collection, choosing pieces for display based on visual affinity rather than historical provenance or contemporary relevance. His unconventional display serves as an insightful experiment in connoisseurship and exhibition making made possible thanks to Kathy Fuld Richard Fuld Gund and The William and Katherine Frank Foundation who generously donated funds.
Shearing was an artist renowned for incorporating lyricism into his music, drawing influence from bebop while remaining true to himself and avoiding its extreme intensity. He had numerous hit records including his signature ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ standard tune.
Shearers typically earn $100,000 annually. With the shearing industry struggling to recruit workers, it is vital for farmers to hire shearers that meet their specific needs – but one shearer with 32 years of experience cautions that the profession can be physically taxing.
This exhibition is made possible thanks to generous funding provided by Kathy and Richard Fuld, Agnes Gund, the Low Road Foundation, Matthew Marks, Emily Rauh Pulitzer Foundation and Shear Family Trust.
Achievement and Honors
Shearing’s unique improvisatory style was an integral component in the development of jazz piano. His recordings and live performances inspired generations of musicians; he also became an esteemed pianist in Las Vegas over many years.
Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company presented Jack Howe with Shears from their collection for use.
Eileen Fagan from Gore is an internationally acclaimed competitive shearer who holds the women’s nine-hour four-stands record, shearing 2066 sheaves over nine hours and four stands. Additionally, she’s been back-to-back winner of the New Zealand Speed Shear Championship – shearer champions like Eileen are instrumental in driving fundraising efforts for multi-purpose venues within their communities.
Shearing is an arduous but satisfying sport that demands skill and commitment from competitors, yet provides them with a distinct sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Shearing has quickly gained in popularity worldwide over recent years.
McRose’s videos have gained her more LGBTQ customers, who enjoy watching animals “recover from being sheared.” Additionally, she has an interest in agriculture and serves on the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation Board of Trustees.
Jarrett Earnest’s exhibition at The Drawing Center is exquisitely curated. His careful curation manages to strike an elegant balance between restraint (all works are black-and-white) and provocation, for instance bringing together Vija Celmins’ charcoal “Untitled (Ocean),” from 2014, with Tom of Finland’s sailors for a captivating exhibition experience.
Jack Shear is an artist, photographer, and curator based out of Los Angeles. His works have been showcased at both the Drawing Center (in Drawn from Artists’ Collections) and Tang Teaching Museum (Twice Drawn). Additionally he serves as president of Ellsworth Kelly Foundation as well as serving on their drawing and prints committee at MOMA.
Shear is an outspoken supporter of the LGBT community and participated in Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project. He lives with partner Sally in Spencertown, New York but visits Yelarbon twice each year to shear sheep alongside Wendy Ramsay and her husband Ben; together they can shear up to 240 sheep in one day with assistance from a caretaker on their farm.