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BOO 2011

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Photo by Shellia Dee Bailey

Andrew Spear

Arts and Entertainment - Staff Picks

Best sellout in the best possible way

Andrew Spear crafts a mural for Real World: Las Vegas

If you’re one for driving around Orlando and looking for walls of distraction – or, for that matter, if you’ve just picked up this paper over the past few years – you’re aware of the artistic ubiquity of Andrew Spear and his explosion of hair. For one blip of a pop-cultural minute this year, though, Spear became a product of mass consumption when his graphic sensibilities lined the living spaces of the handpicked “reality” kids currently starring in the Sin City Real World. Presumably, people there have already stopped being polite and started getting real, but seeing as life has aged most of us out of the demographic that cheers along to gay Mormons a-groping or loud girls with their mouths wired shut, we’ll take the world’s word for it that Spear’s giant lady wall in the pool room is a smashing success. Also, an artist? On MTV? Revolutionary.

 

Best building we never noticed before

S.H. Kress Building
15 W. Church St.

We hate to admit it, but if it weren’t for this year’s Snap Orlando event, we might still be walking by this architectural gem without recognizing its beauty. In May, Snap used the Orange Avenue facade of the Kress Building, located at 15 W. Church St. downtown, as the canvas for a massive photo projection exhibit that kicked off the organization’s five-day photography showcase. The projection was designed to illuminate and interact with the architectural details of the building, and as we watched it unfold, we started to notice the building’s regal Art Deco lines and terra cotta flourishes.

Orlando’s Kress Building was built in 1935 by the S.H. Kress and Co. national chain of five-and-dime department stores. Samuel H. Kress, the company’s founder, was an art lover and philanthropist who wanted his buildings to be more than just boxes to warehouse his variety-store empire – he wanted each store to be, according to the Kress Foundation history of the company, “a gift of civic art to its community.” The stores became local landmarks in their communities, and the architectural significance of the Kress buildings distinguished them from their more generic competitors, like Woolworth’s and Kresge.

Kress hired staff architects to design each Kress building, and in 1929, the company dismissed its chief architect, George MacKay, and replaced him with Edward F. Sibbert. Sibbert helped move the architectural aesthetic of the Kress buildings from the traditional to the modern, and he was behind the designs of more than 50 of the company’s best-known buildings, including the one located in downtown Orlando.

Though the interior of Orlando’s Kress building was remodeled in the 1990s, the exterior is still unmistakably Sibbert: sleek and modern and straight, with pastel- colored terra cotta ornaments accentuating the windows and the company name, “Kress,” spelled out in bronze-colored letters overhead.

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