This year’s Culture & Cocktails event, hosted at the Maitland Art Center, featured poetry readings by local writers and artwork by Andrew Spear, who doesn’t plan so much as allow his art to happen.
Aside from the fact that Spear’s work is featured in galleries all over the states, in New York and in San Francisco, he has a shoe fetish and a record collection like you wouldn’t believe.
Andrew Grant is a Communications alumnus; class of 2005, who has his own style of art. Using oil paints, he takes a liking to still life, people, and more narrative work akin to Spear’s piece called “Taliban” which hung on the wall right beside DJ Nigel, who’s likeness was also on display.
Grant said he liked the concept of Spear’s art in that it presented a different look at the conclusions we jump to when discrimination takes over.
“When people see the turban, they have preconceived notions of war and violence, but all the different colors of the cassettes [in place of a belt of bullets] represent the different nations brought together by music.”
“Music brings people together,” said Grant. And apparently, the same goes for disco balls–a recurring theme throughout Spear’s work.
“There has to be a disco ball if there’s going to be an Andrew show,” said Debbie Shemanski.
And there was. One hung from the ceiling smack dab in the center of the room, others were being blasted from bazookas in black and white.
As a matter of fact, some of the patterns in his works look like they come straight out of the 60s, while his use of texture throughout locks of hair hold more details still.
“The hair is an extension of the wavelengths in music. There’s a certain rhythm and flow to it,” said Spear.
He draws primarily with his left hand, colors with the right, adding a natural distortion to his artwork.
His father taught him the method. Aside from the cushion of support his mother and father gave him to follow his passion, he sometimes starts out by sketching with “blind contours.” It’s basically just letting your hand run the length of the page, without looking down to see what happens next.
Where the figures featured in his paintings may not be anatomically correct, their expressions seem true to life. A look in the eyes present blank stares, contempt, defiance, boredom.
Alternate realities of today’s pop icons: Michael Jackson, Bettie Page, Mick Jagger, Prince, and what looks like Olivia Wilde in one large print, “Poison Ivy.” Spear said he has no idea who the woman really is, though.
Clean lines made dark with Bic pens formed textures that ebb and flow in the motion of the waves of emotion that pour from the eyes of those whose portraits sought refuge here for one night only. On Friday the thirteenth.
The John Gallagher Band played outside, lending some audio stimulation to the gallery, and the fingertips of DJ Nigel, playing indoors, moved some to dance in the courtyard of the Maitland Art Center.
A steady stream of poetic verse could also be heard if you only listened closely enough to the voices that arose from the Mayan ruins themselves, creating a little niche for the performers adjacent to the Germaine building where Spear’s work was displayed.
Curtis X Myer, a UCF alumnus from the Creative Writing program, brought a sample of his feelings about Swing music and recited it all by heart.
“Question: What do music, sex, and unequivocal terror have in common? Answer: If it doesn’t make you feel alive, then you ain’t doin’ it right,” said Myer.
He interspersed beat-boxing with iambic pentameter like it was written upon his soul, like he just had to let everyone in the crowd know or his brain might explode.
Writer Christi Shannon Kline read from her debut book “No Child More Perfect & Other Poems” and Arnold Breman read aloud an excerpt from his book of short stories. The one entitled “Wildlife Concierto” is about a performance by violinist Itzak Perlman; how it was ruined by one member of the audience who didn’t pay even pay to see the show. A cricket.
Groups of all shapes and backgrounds came together for the affair. It was like a club scene erected from the clay of years past and transplanted here to create this modern art show, bringing both the wild and somber sides of Orlando to coalesce in one space.
Just as the development of a culture starts with its foundation, the progress of its people continue to change
Another alumnus, Angela Kendall-Dempsey, wife to Spear’s business partner Brian Dempsey, actually helped lay the sod down on Greek row during construction. She said that Spear knows so many different people that it’s a wonder to see them all together for a night.
Dempsey was busy devouring a turkey and cheese crepe while his wife spoke of the marketing talents of Spear.
“He has this business acumen,” Kendall-Dempsey said. “It’s like the perfect marriage between fine art and commercial art.”
Co-founder of Metro Finishes Art & Design, along with Spear, said, “He’s taken it to another level” in that Spear remains humbly devoted to his art and can still sell his product with a logical frame of mind.
For more information, check out spearlife.com, artattacksonline.com, and artandhistory.org.
(Edited version published in the Central Florida Future.)