Orlando Hannah Spector Art
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Moments, Moments, Momentum w/ Hannah Spector

Hannah Spector is a good kid who makes a bad grown-up. Her artwork is hypnotic, in no short part due to its playful colorful and shapes. It ignites flickers of memories that only appear before they hurl you into a dream.

(Note: This interview was recorded a few days after A Place Gallery, a DIY art venue by Time Waste Management, closed.)


Andy Andrade: I think the first time I became interested in your work when you held an exhibition titled  Moments, Moments, Momentum with Orlando-based artist Jacob Bailes at A Place Gallery.

Hannah Spector: Yeah I was really happy with that show, I love working with Jacob. His ethic is planned and methodical. When he approaches a work he’s precise and knows what he’s going to do, which I admire. When I do something, I don’t know when it’s done until it’s done. I make him loosen up and he makes me tighten up. We provide the pops of color that the other needs. We share the same aesthetics. He’s my favorite collaborator.

Andy Andrade: Are you from here?

Hannah Spector: Yes, but I’ve lived in DC for five years and some other places, France for eight months and Thailand for 3 months; by the Burmese border.

Orlando Hannah Spector Art

Andy Andrade: Was it a humanitarian effort?

Hannah Spector: Yeah, I was teaching art/music an English language to kids. Most of their parents were still in Burma, so they’d come here after school. It was a community center kind of deal.

Andy Andrade: How old were you when you did this?

Hannah Spector: I was a sophomore in college.

Andy Andrade: So you’re a yoga teacher, a musician, a poet, an artist, a humanitarian … what else am I missing here?

Hannah Spector: *pause* I think I’m pretty good at dancing.

Andy Andrade: Who inspired you to become an artist?

Hannah Spector: I think it was more of a slow building process. I was just good at art. I won the Winter Park Sidewalk Festival when I was in kindergarten. But I think it all started when I learned how to write. I would carry a little Hello Kitty notebook around my neck and only talk to people by writing what I was thinking or needed.

Hannah Spector Orlando Art

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Andy Andrade: How do you feel about the art scene in Orlando, given that we now have lost another DIY space?

Hannah Spector: It’s really sad. They had just made me a curator. There was a lot of people who would have helped out but just couldn’t.

Andy Andrade: That whole part of town is being heavily gentrified, what do you think the next move is for DIY spaces and culture in Orlando?

Hannah Spector: It’s going to just start being in everyone’s houses. That’s what I would do in DC, I would just throw gatherings in my apartment building. Bad things are happening in the Milk District too — landlords trying to get money left and right. There’s not a lot of funding down here for youth-oriented art anyway. The members of the art board, they fund particular artists … old established flamingo painters. It’s all about what can be consumed, what can they sell, and what people want in their houses. No one is going to buy the cage that Jacob Bailes and I created for Moments, Moments, Momentum. They don’t support the youth. Those board members, they’re stuck on this line of “Oh, as a kid you do face paints and then as you get older all of that is irrelevant. You paint landscapes and get rich.” Somewhere I got mad in that process. This is not why I’m making art. I don’t just want it to sit in people’s homes.  

Orlando Hannah Spector Art

Andy Andrade: When did you come to this conclusion?

Hannah Spector: I was meeting with a gallery’s board, and I kept meeting people that were in charge of their funding. It was a dinner and I started noticing how much they didn’t care about the artists, only about the wealth and profits that are coming from the work. I felt disturbed, kind of like in Fear and Loathing — when everyone was a lizard and laughing.

Andy Andrade: Do you usually represent yourself?

Hannah Spector: Yes. Always. So I can be unedited.   

Andy Andrade: What made you move back from DC?

Hannah Spector: I Just liked it better down here.

Andy Andrade: Why?

Hannah Spector: The people. They’re genuine; they care. They’re more genuinely creative. It’s a friendly competition, a community.

Andy Andrade: Everyone knows each other too. You can ask someone if they know so-and-so and they’re bound to say, “Oh, I write for that person. I paint with that person. I make music with that person.” 

Hannah Spector: I love that. I am happy to be here, in this moment. 

Andy Andrade: So what’s your current style? Preferred medium?

Hannah Spector: Painting and screen printing. They’re two different parts of my practice. Screen printing, minimalist color theory and focusing on shape and color, that’s it. I have a catalog of shapes that I’m going to stop using so I can be progressive. Screen printing is meticulous. You have to be virulent about your hands being clean, watching for the paint to not dry. Then painting, it’s chaos. Sitting with globs of paint … there’s still love for color theory, but it’s an amorphous color theory. It all depends on what medium I want to use in my next piece. That’s been my goal over the last four years, master the mediums through intense study. So when I have an idea, I can use the software, printmaking, woodcutting, music, whatever I need to get the idea out. I want fluidity. 

Andy Andrade: So if you had to pick, would you be a poet or a painter?

Hannah Spector: I really like the place I go with writing. If a voice asked me in the middle of the night, ”What must you do?” I would say, “I must write.” But it’s all part of the same feeling, I have to make things or I get upset.

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Hannah Spector Orlando Art

Side C - "bitter//sweet"

Side C – “bitter//sweet”

Side C is the moniker of Orlando producer, Kevin Cruz. Kevin is the guy at the front of the stage with the dope flat top, dancing like he’s got the fever. As Side C, he ices that fever and turns it into cool, groovy, expansive instrumentals. His latest is “bitter//sweet.”

The initial elements of the song are minimalist tones that float above a sample of crashing waves. Before the ticking beat is introduced at 0:25, I’m pulled into the same headspace that Brian Eno evokes: calm introspection. I don’t stay there for long, though. The song is filled-in with the aforementioned beat, dreamy melodies, and gentle cymbals.

Two minutes in, the music fades. Pieces slowly drop out until we’re left with the few sounds we had at beginning, bringing the song to its apparent end. But silence only lasts a second, and we are introduced to a short, ice cream truck-like jingle. This is again built upon. The whole story feels like an entire day spent unknotting at the beach.

The tart side of “bitter//sweet” is that it serves as Kevin’s farewell to Orlando. This is expressed in the soulful keys and emotive flute of the second half. It’s an overall happy send-off, but is slightly tinged with sadness, kind of like driving back to home after our day at the beach. I have no doubt Cruz will continue to make great music in the future, and he’ll always be covered in the stench that is Orlando. It doesn’t watch off.

Why Was The Space Important?

It’s been a few weeks since The Space closed its doors. It was weird. One second we were putting on our first show at The Space, and in what seemed to be a blink of the eye, it was gone. I didn’t feel the shock. The Space closing didn’t really seem to surprise anyone, and I think that’s because we had been expecting the fall for so long. Back in December, I remember hearing rumors that The Space wasn’t going to be around much longer. And more and more, it seemed that Meg McNash – The Space’s de facto booker – was fighting to keep the blood pumping. And she should be proud. Orlando should be proud. The Space was never meant to be The Social or Backbooth. It wasn’t, or at least didn’t feel like, a venue. The Space was more of a creative celebration or a social experiment, meant to see what Orlando was capable of.

“So they burned it down, so build another one. Don’t go on to me that they burned it down, BUILD ANOTHER ONE. YOU’RE THE ONLY ONES THAT ARE GONNA DO IT!”

– Patti Smith

After a extended stay in denial, this Patti Smith quote, delivered by local spoken-word artist Young Moon, pushed me directly to acceptance. The excerpt is from a piece he read at the final edition of Speakeasy, a monthly poetry and spoken-word night at Will’s Pub that ran for over 13 years. In a city where bars and venues close down so suddenly, how could this line not resonate? Because avenues of expression may die, but as long as we keep pushing, the creativity within the community will continue to thrive. We should remember The Space for what it was, what it meant to everyone who visited. To some, it was a hot as shit venue. I, in a previous article titled “Why is The Space Important?,” more lovingly described it as, “… a prime location to witness Orlando’s growing cultural impact” and, “[An] artistic mecca home to a variety of celebrations and group expression.”

But I agree, it was hot as shit. And we didn’t care. Some of my best memories since moving to Orlando were at The Space: my best friend crowd surfing during a packed Me Chinese set, seeing Tiger Fawn for the first time at SPACE FEST 2, putting on my first show with all my friends! The Space was great. It left its mark on me. And I know everyone reading this right now has stories like mine. You’re marked too. And hopefully, you’ll want to keep this artistic community alive by starting your own iteration of The Space or supporting local venues like The Space Station, Uncle Lou’s, or Will’s Pub. So thank you to The Space, Meg, and the entire Orlando community. The Space will always be the place.

“The idea of a place for us to teach in, to rehearse and play in that is kept afloat based on the efforts of the community is such a next-level, foreign concept for us. Maybe this is our chance to evolve as a unit and directly support each other’s passions and art forms.”

– Addison Muha (Orlando Singer-Songwriter) 

Indigo People – ‘Glasshouse EP’

Around this time last year, I did a review of an ethereal jazz artist who goes by the moniker Chris Topher. He had just released his fourth EP, Green Machinea release that featured Topher collaborating with Silvia Plath, Carl Sagan, and Jackson Pollock. A year before that, I did my first review of Chris’ music on Introspective. The reason I bring up Chris Topher in the first place is because he has a new moniker, Indigo People. And as Indigo People, he’s expanded the single he released last September into a complete EP. enjoy.

Glasshouse starts with “Daydreamer,” a piece that incorporates a familiar element from Chris Topher/Indigo People, some scholar discussing our universe. These audio clips have always drawn me to his music. They’re thought provoking and really make the aura of these songs. Next is “Silent Film.” This was the single from last year. So far, we’ve got a new name, but not any changes to the music. Let’s continue.

“Passeig de les Aigues” knocked me out. It’s where the new sounds finally emerge. The song starts with a mandolin line, something that I’ve never heard in a prior EP. The direct words of “Daydreamer” are replaced with the singing of birds. It’s very folk-era Zeppelin. A bass line hits that brings thunder into the forest. This is followed by strings and tambourine on the tail end of the song that are some other forrest-y thing. This is a brand new world for this artist. This is Indigo People.

But, Topher’s piano lines are still present, leading us through this new territory. “Keukenhof Gardens” somewhat returns to space, but takes an electric drum kit with it. The outro on this one beautiful; the pianos and guitars delicately bounce off each other. The last song is “Blue Box.” And we’ve got more new elements, glitchy synth and tasteful beat-boxing. “Blue Box” jumps around way more rapidly than the prior pieces. Paino, guitar, kit drums, more glitches, and a funky bassline all enter and exit at leisure. The three-and-a-half minute coda feels long, because we’re hit with so much, so quickly. It’s another large step forward for this artist. As long as he keeps experimenting and his music keeps intriguing me, he can call himself whatever he wants.

Young Thug VS Jean-Michel Basquiat

In the 1980’s, a young, African American painter emerged onto the New York art scene. Jean-Michel Basquiat was one of the brightest, and most unique, artists in all of America. He took the expressionist style of the Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and combined it with tribal African and street art that reflected his urban surroundings and the plight of the African American community. 

Since Basquiat’s 1998 death, his art has grown increasingly popular among hip hop artists. Both Jay Z and Swizz Beats are known Basquiat collectors, and he has been referenced in verses by hip hop heavyweights Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Rick Ross, Danny Brown, J. Cole, and A$AP Rocky. 

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Does Young Thug appear in this Basquiat painting that was made years before his birth?

This reoccurring homage continues in the music video for the Young Thug/Freddie Gibbs/A$AP Ferg collaboration, “Old English.” Well before this video came out, this track blew my mind. Three great verses linked together by one thick chain of a hook. A$AP Ferg especially shines with one of his best verses to date. He tells a narrative of a young, hispanic girl who turns to selling Molly as ends to support her sick mother, along with the rest of her family.

But getting back the video, it’s not too difficult to see the Basquiat connection. The crude line work and the bright colors harken back to Basquiat’s work – his signature crown even makes an appearance. This sort of gritty depiction expertly juxtaposes with the trap instrumentals and dark lyrics on street life.

I think this is why Basquiat’s art resonates in hip hop. Artists like like-minded artists. Basquiat, like Jay-Z or Young Thug, was born with nothing and worked his way to notoriety in a system that fought against him. His art reflects a story that too many African Americans live themselves. One encompassed by poverty, drugs, violence, and systematic suppression. Out of this struggle however, comes wonderful art and music. These artists reflect their surroundings in their art and hopefully, educate their audiences on the circumstances they and so many have experienced.

Bellows: Linear Abstraction & Christmas Sweaters

Editor’s Note: Since this interview, the members of Bellows changed their name to Someday River

This year, no one is more overcome with holiday spirit than Orlando experimental folk rock trio, Bellows. These sonic sculptors have been at it since 2010; and in 2013, Orlando Weekly named them Best Experimental Act. I sat down with Bellows’ lead architect Greyson Charnock to talk about Orlando music, Bellows’ progression, and Christmas cheer. Later, I was able to encroach on the band’s practice space with TVW Photographer, Karina Curto. Somehow, we ended up helping them out with their Christmas cards. Enjoy.

This Saturday, Bellows’ will be playing at Sweater Fest. Come see Orlando’s finest take over The Milk District.

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M: Within the band, do you do most of the songwriting? How does that work?

G: Some of [Bellows’] earlier material was stuff that I had written that we just pieced together and turned into this structural thing. But we’re moving more into like, I might just come up with a little idea and we all just jam on it together. Then we say, “that works, this doesn’t work.” [We] sort of separate it out into a song that’s more grooved-based. Instead of [songs] based solely on transitions, or solely on the vocals, which is something I did a lot in the past.

M: That’s what collaboration does, right?

G: Yeah. We got Sean [Boyle] on drums, and Pat [Dunn] on the bass. And they’ve really helped crystallize the band. We were a two-piece for a while, and I think there’s a lot of being deliberate as a two piece. The idea is so pure. But, now that we have a bassist, I could never go back.

M: You guys have been [playing] for like, five years… almost five?

G: Yeah, five years from our first show is in February.

M: Five years is a long time, especially for a local band.

G: I didn’t have any expectations, honestly. When I first started writing music [after] I moved to college; it took me years to grasp the idea that, “Okay, there’s a next step to this.” Before that, I had no intentions of ever playing for anybody. Even open mics, I never did [those] until Bellows. That was the first time that I ever played live.

M: Really? How did it go?

G: (laughs) It went alright. It takes a long time to get your footing in a community… now it sort of feels like I can just feel the culture building, and it’s kind of cool to be a part of it.

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M: You guys are playing sweater fest. Are people supposed to wear their sweaters to that?

G: Oh yeah!

M: Okay, okay. I have my own, but it drips glitter every time I move.

G: You leave a trail?

M: Yeah. So I feel like in a pit, everyone is going to have glitter on them and be like, “It was that [asshole].”

G: (laughs) I love it. Yeah, you got to bring a sweater and uh… Christmas vibes.

M: Now, you were talking about how you work at the UCF Art Gallery. How does that passion for visual art merge with music? How do those things collide?

G: I use one thing to fuel the other. A lot of the artwork I’ve been doing in the past couple years has been for the band. And my job at the gallery makes [Bellows] possible.

M: What more traditional artists are you into?

G: I’ll just start by saying I have a huge print in my living room that’s framed. It’s a drawing from Da Vinci. I looked it up and it was like a couple hundred bucks, but I got it for like $12 at a thrift store. But there’s something that my professors would say: your competition isn’t like, the people in this classroom. That’s your immediate competition, but your competition to push yourself is every artist that’s ever lived.

M: Wow. That’s a lot of pressure.

G: Yeah, I guess. But I can’t compare or anything like that, obviously. But I like to keep that drawing up as a reminder like, “that’s your competition.”

M: Do you do the same thing with music?

G: I compare recordings. I try not to get stuck on the style of the music… It doesn’t matter if it’s the same genre, but I try to hold myself to the same level as bands I respect. I don’t want to be like, “I would listen to this all day long, but I wouldn’t listen to my shit.”

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M: (runs out of questions) So… is there anything you want to talk about?

I love to paint too. Whenever I paint, it’s not about anything. It’s just about color. You know, working with color and blending. I rarely clean my brush. I just continuously mix colors without cleaning. It’s kind of like that with a song where you want everything to be congruent, but kind of reactive and responding to itself.

M: You guys recently put out an EP [Day Changer].

G: It’s going to be an LP. It’s not released yet. I just released a couple songs off [of it]. We’re going to be releasing one or two at a time every couple months, and then we’ll have an LP come out somewhere, probably Spring 2015.

M: How many songs we lookin’ at for the LP?

G: Well, after we filter out everything, probably 10 to 12.

M: Awesome. Well, I appreciate you sitting down.

G: Yeah, thanks for talking to me.