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University of Missouri

Art for All

Painter David Spear, MFA ’12, makes CoMo his home and his subject.

David Spear

David Spear poses in his Alleyway Arts gallery at 1107 E. Broadway.

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, painter David Spear, MFA ’12, detests a blank façade. “It’s depressing when I look at an empty wall. I want to see something on it!” Spear started solving that problem in 1998 when he painted a trio of 4‐by‐8‐foot panels at Cicero’s nightclub in St. Louis. Since then, he has been adorning infrastructure with large paintings as well as creating over‐the‐sofa sized art for private collections.

Spear draws stylistic inspiration for his public art from famed regionalist painters John Steuart Curry, Grant Wood and fellow Missourian Thomas Hart Benton. Several local buildings feature his take on topics including dancers (Sophia’s, 3915 S. Providence Road), bartenders (Addison’s, 709 Cherry St.), bus passengers (Wabash Station, 126 N. 10th St.), Memorial Union (first‐floor lounge) and the Columbia skyline (Boone Hospital Center, 1600 E. Broadway).

The artist’s latest large‐scale work is taking shape on the exterior of Alleyway Arts, his studio‐gallery in the alley east of 10th Street between Walnut and Broadway. “The idea is to paint downtown as if I’m looking through the wall of my studio and seeing the city,” Spear says. “It’s like a map of the area. It’s meant to be aesthetically amusing, and I hope people will use it to locate themselves in the city.”

David Spear mural

Spear works on a mural of Columbia on the north‐facing exterior wall of the gallery, located in the alley behind Willie’s at 1109 E. Broadway and behind DSport at 1034 E. Walnut St.