Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Andrew Spear Paints a New Mural on Colonial Drive and Thornton Avenue

In June I noticed a bright splash of color on Colonial Drive as I was driving to work. Andrew Spear was painting a mural on the side of Little Saigon. I had to stop to get a sketch. I have always wondered why no artist in Rome ever sketched Michelangelo as he painted the Sistine Chapel. They didn't have to be the best artist in the world, but that would be good sketch documenting an important moment.

For many years this wall on Colonial was covered with a beautiful aquatic painting, done by Jeanette Sheurr. That mural had recently been renovated but the the owners of Ace Rubber Stamp Company sold the building to Little Saigon. Andrew Sear was commissioned to repaint the wall and Red Bull was bought in as a sponsor. There was a competition in which people submitted photos for consideration and the winners were incorporated into the mural. The Red Bull logo got prominent placement on the mural and Nike swooshes can be seen on everyone's sneakers. At what point does art cross over to become advertising?

I love Andrew's work and it was inspiring to see him at work. The final design of the mural was still in flux on the day I stopped by for a visit. Andrew had wanted to paint a huge dragon to go with the oriental theme but the photo reference and sponsors needs took priority. While Andrew worked on the detailed crosshatching of the figurative elements, the larger swirls and patterns were painted by Gary Johnston using a big house brush and a roller. Andrew stood back in the street to consider where to cut off the ground plane. I was surprised that he asked me for advise and he decided to cut off the red and black ground plane before the doorway.

Andrew talked about an early job he took in Boston as  caricature artist. He was taught how to create in the very stylized style that is typical of street caricatures. His first costumer was a rather overweight man. Now how could be make this guy look thin? He decided to go the other way and he made him supper chunky with a giant chicken leg in his hand. The client was appalled. "Really dude, this is how you see me? The guy went to Andrew's boss and he was fired that day. I like that Andrew didn't sacrifice his vision that day. He told me that there is a website set up by a vandal that is called "Make Andrew Spear Cry". This guy who works in a fast food joint decided that he would vandalize Andrews work and then post photos of the destruction online. The police found this guy, but he is still at large. It takes a herculean amount of patience for Andrew to not beat the guy to a pulp.

It started to rain. I move under a canopy and Andrew moved his paints and supplies under cover as well. I looked up the weather radar on my phone and saw that the cloud was fairly small, so he storm might pass quickly. The sketch Andrew was using as reference was sealed in acetate. He had learned from past experience that it rains rather often in Central Florida. Andrews work is popping up all over the Mills/50 District and this bright mural will be hard to miss if you are driving East down Colonial. The art we create often is erased by changing tides.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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