Jay King is an artist whose parents met while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and Jay grew up surrounded by books and works of art. He began to work with cameras during summers starting when he was 16 years old as an assistant to well-known professionals such as Ralph Cowan and Mort Shapiro. After earning a degree in history at the University of Wisconsin in 1967, Jay developed a career as a successful studio photographer, but he was continually drawn to take his camera out to the streets.
And as a street photographer Jay has spent the better part of a half century as an unassuming and almost furtive presence on the streets of Chicago, more or less purloining for his own pleasure an endless array of intimate human emotions snatched from his subjects in the blink of a camera’s eye. His photographs are both meditations on the human condition and affectionate renderings of the people and streets of our city. And all delivered with the driest sense of humor (tempered with empathy) on record. The pictures in GOOD FOR CHICAGO offer honest and unadorned tableaux; scores of memory-provoking snapshots touching on four decades of street life. From a motor-cycle-riding dog to a youngster cooling off in an open hydrant’s gush, and from the intense gaze from an ancient woman staring through a magnifying lens on her Lincoln Park back porch to a young couple’s complete concentration on aiming their rifle in a Riverview penny arcade – you may laugh and you may wince a little; but you will definitely be smiling. Jay has created a wonderful and humorous panorama of life filled with historic associations and timeless emotions.