“Hope” is in all of us as we face unprecedented odds- over 6 million people currently filing for unemployment, refrigerated trucks positioned into place to act as field hospital morgues, and newscycles’ grim, unpleasant, and constant catastrophic reminder- its graphic side screen numerical ticker that displays the nations hourly pandemic fatality counts. Yet, as many of us cling to our loved ones, try to embrace the new normal of working from home, and begin to incorporate ordering food from the front line workers, I mean, warriors... we have to be aware that sometimes those in the proverbial or peripheral shadows can also teach us some lessons on life.
Television personality, Fred Rogers (Won’t You Be My Neighbor) often spoke about his own mother’s advice of looking for the “Helpers”, those ordinary people who emerge from the wreckage and try to help others, often against unbelievable odds… in times of distress, of emergency, and even pandemics.
The media, left or right, continue to cast a dramatic and much needed spotlight on the doctors and nurses risking their own lives to save others; a superhuman feat that none of us ever want to experience. But, the deafening roar is now coming from the layman grocery store worker that continues to come face to face with the pandemic every day to just restock the commodities needed to feed their community, and diligent delivery drivers venturing into the unknown with each destination to complete app driven commerce.
However, artists, yes artists, have been uniting too –becoming helpers, and continuing to create artwork even in the direst of challenges… this unique global and economic disaster.
The need to create is often described as an internal need, almost an uncontrollable determination, an involuntary movement like breathing. Here, today, in the midst of the worst global financial landscape that most of us have ever experienced, artists everywhere- in isolation perhaps, are "helping" by creating.
They create to share, they create to educate, they create to sell, they create to heal, they create to live, they create to be, and they create to find purpose. All this still applies now! Even with the dreaded “C” word of 2020. Artists are helpers too.
So, with most of the fine art galleries closing their doors and concentrating their efforts online, we are seeing a surge in the new gallery “viewing room” virtual art exhibition. On the flip side of this, are the artists who are reshaping not only the art world, but their own isolated worlds- establishing new practices and beginning new habits in lieu of COVID-19.
Adam Spear an artist in the greater Miami, Florida area has also self-isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As interviewed over the phone, Spear says his world is “upside down”. “My days are flipped… I paint all night now and sleep when I can. The room I am in now, is the room I also paint in. I don’t go out to the store too much anymore. I am ordering things online constantly,” he adds.
As he continues to distance himself further into seclusion, he has also deeply submerged himself into the virtual realities of artistic existence. From online and freesourced programs to creative suites, Spear uses a wide-range of graphic software as tools as a means to an end. Not only is he highly cognizant of his decisions to utilize these digital programs, but he is also conscious of his decision to then reverse this train of thought and use the digital compositions only as muses and inspirations by painting them “organically” onto the canvases and panels; bringing his artwork full circle back to the painter’s hand and the coveted artist touch.
As he continues to create new artwork while COVID-19 throws the world in uncertainty, his artistic language has begun to change, and a more mature aesthetic is beginning to evolve. Adam Spear’s new body of work delicately dabbles in the commercially viable palette of post pop imagery while simultaneously throwing a middle digitus impudicus to the quasi establishment of monopoly driven designers who volley for acceptable faux graffiti.
Yes, Spear has toned down his juxtaposed painterly and image-driven narrative that once revolved around the rudimentary protagonist, but he has replaced it with a highly self-edited and toned-down cryptic zest of grey-scaled urban decay. New backgrounds include facades that resemble puckered wheat pasted posters on abandoned buildings to pirated copy-right infringed appropriations what reek of mockery to the corporate enterprises. His flair of capturing the placid and low-key counter-culture vibes or the self-centered fashionista personality play center stage to something more diabolical and sinister, more underbelly- a world of deviancy, of antiauthoritarian regimes, of anarchistic revelry.
In Relax, a mixed media painting measuring 48” x 48”, Spear lobs an Abercrombie & Fitch persona at the viewer, complete with trucker hat, short shorts and canvas high-tops. If you look carefully, you can see the Adbuster infringement; smooth like freshly rolled tar- pungent in its high temperature of toxic exhaust. Our nostrils flair and our insides clench, but we know it’s needed to allow the plight of metropolitan movement. The same applies here, Spear acknowledges the trivial and uni-dimensional poser that mimics the authentic social norms. He accepts the trifling barrage of mindless advertisement, but redirects, flips, and arrogates these notions to smooth the graphic highways of billboard liberations.
New Wave pierces our self-imposed and transparent barricade… those communal rose-colored glasses of consumer culture acceptance. A tattooed model’s gaze is redirected past the viewer to the unknown-the abyss of consumerism teaming with shopping mall kiosks of wooden cell phone covers and aromatic incense dispensaries. The evidences and plight of taggers and juvenile misfits run amok on the painting surface. Layers of lacerated symbology conceal gestural marks by the artist, like some kind of gang crossout war; but this home turf warfare is internal and yet instantaneously external – a metaphor for the overabundance of capitalistic tendencies by industrial savants.
Adam Spear’s new work has visually matured by leaps and bounds… artistic movements that continue to plot destructive demises on the restrictive shackles of oppressive consumerisms. A hero in his own way, he finds unique ways to cope, just like all of us.
Find the helpers, find the artists, find the HOPE!