Tip of the Spear

Tip of the Spear
Andrew Spear: Solo Exhibition
Through Jan. 9 at Bold Hype
1844 E. Winter Park Road

Andrew Spear's compulsion to draw is well-known by now in Orlando, with a body of work verging on the iconic. His wall murals at the entryway to CityArts Factory (one of Erykah Badu and the other of a woman blowing a kiss) are topped by the new ones he created at Bold Hype for the show, and they are complemented by even stronger work in pen-and-ink and colored pencil, ranging from dead musicians to captivating women. Through it all pervades a refreshing celebration of our human flesh and blood and a love for the natural convergence of music and art. This feeling is so reassuring that it is positively mood-altering.

The subjects in his pieces, mostly rockers and girlish women, carry a spirit of humanity that's always latent in his work; they resonate with life and emotion, framed not by imagined environments but rather by their hair, which spikes, swirls and flows in energy vortices around them. The woman in the commanding lavender background wall mural at the front of the gallery peers down at the viewer, giant windblown hair traced almost to the individual strand, her face all confidence and maturity.

Emblematic of the art/music convergence, in the back of the gallery Spear shows a much smaller but quite impressive homage to Klaus Voormann's Revolver album cover. It's also one of the first pieces in what is turning into a series of nostalgic tributes to classic rock cover art. Michael Jackson's faces in "Remember the Time" poignantly capture his endless, lonely searching while he poses and struts. 

While pop-culture art tends to step into dark matter, Spear's framed pen-and-inks rejoice in what almost verges on realism. In the engaging "And Then," he captures the woman's hands, eyes and neck, craning to hear a story, conveying narrative without support from titles or backgrounds. The black-and-white minimalism connects the viewer so closely to her that one recalls the color of her eyes. Yet only her dress and the stone in her ring are actually in color. This is a new work and reflects Spear's experimentation, particularly with technique.

Somewhere in the promotion of the exhibit, the show's title changed from New Works by Andrew Spear (as printed underneath the colored-pencil brunette in a bikini on the glossy postcards) to Andrew Spear: Solo Exhibition. It may sound like a petty detail, but it's an important distinction: Spear's many friends and fans closely follow what the Orlando artist and music DJ is up to, and what was on show opening night wasn't all new.

But there were surprises as a result; for instance, the drawing of an elephant under a disco ball on a 6-foot-tall piece of unfinished plywood — proving that Spear doesn't always draw women. In fact, there's a discussion of that very issue in Spear's Q&A in the new issue of Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine, considered the Rolling Stone of contemporary underground art. The "Showstopper" write-up — timed to coincide with the exhibition — has been literally blown up so it's the first thing you see upon entry into Bold Hype, along with Spear's gorgeous psychedelic explosion, "Stevie Sees," which was also featured in the magazine.

The underlying significance of the Juxtapoz/Bold Hype co-promotion (which also extended to Spear's participation and positive feedback earlier this month at Art Basel in Miami) is that Spear, too, is blowing up on the contemporary art scene. Spears' installations in his solo exhibition recall the 1960s, enhanced by the presence of a record player, vintage furniture and other evocative touches. He channels the best of this era; a sense of hope symbolized best by Stevie's wide smile into the sky that welcomes you. And you leave the gallery smiling with him.

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