No matter how well you are prepared for Miami Art Week, impossible to see all the new artworks and attend all the events. We tried to stay focused on the urban art scene, both in galleries and in the streets, yet also visited traditional Art Basel and took a public art tour. In the cycle of everyday openings and mural paintings, we selected some of the most interesting art interventions open to the public, trying to evaluate Miami as one of Florida Top 10 Urban Art Destinations, project supported by a grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
10 Years of Wynwood Walls
Ten years ago, Wynwood was an ordinary neighborhood of neglected warehouses, shut down factories, and other vacant buildings. Today, property owners ask from $3M to $17M, 5x more than in 2011. The reason for such price increase is in high demand for mixed-use projects including retail and residential, as it is a great location that attracts millions of visitors every year. According to the recent annual report by the Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID), which is comprised of more than 400 property owners in the neighborhood, 2.9 million people visited Wynwood in 2018. Along the way, they spent $526 million in the area and accounted for 20% of all City of Miami Pay-by-Phone parking transactions (nearly 1.5 million).
From the adaptive reuse of warehouses to brand-new residential and office buildings, it is hard to believe that the transformation and development of infrastructure were spurred by… murals. Painting on walls made properties attractive to innovative businesses. At the same time, the growth of the popularity of social media and the “need” for people to share something “cool” on their Instagram generated tourism flow.
Tony Goldman, who died in 2012, specialized in finding potential in decayed neighborhoods. He successfully transformed New York’s SoHo district, Miami Wynwood and South Beach. Goldman emanated a real estate empire to emulate. Today Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties, one of the largest landowners in Wynwood, continues her father’s mission.
To celebrate the decade since Wynwood Walls opened its gates in December 2009, Goldman Properties kicked off Art Basel with the 2019 unveiling of the new installations, artist dinner, and VIP party. Everyone seemed to be there: Pixel Pancho, Felipe Pantone, 2501, Antonyo Marest, Alexis Diaz, 2Alas, Ever, Faith47, Case Maclaim, Shepard Fairey, Tristan Eaton, and many more internationally famous artists who once left their mark at Wynwood Walls as well as their friends, and friends of the friends. Of course, there was legendary Martha Cooper and her fellow photographer Nika Kramer who took over Martha’s job this year, covering all the events for Wynwood Walls.
Although Wynwood remains the most desirable spot for mural placement for artists to be noticed, many have taken their work into other neighborhoods such as Overtown, Little Havana, or Downtown. Wynwood is so oversaturated that people don’t get that genuine aesthetic pleasure from multiple artworks. As an exception, located in Wynwood Eneida M. Hartner Elementary School for the second time has shown the support of high urban art under the RAW Project Management.
The RAW Project = Re-imagining the Arts Worldwide
“It starts with this irony: Wynwood’s middle school doesn’t have an art department… due to budget restraints… How can the most burgeoning art neighborhood on the planet have public schools that don’t teach art or music?” – The Huffington Post.
In the US, six million students receive no arts education, and 60 percent of American schools have seen their arts programs defunded. RAW began in 2014 and brought together a coalition of non-profits, organizations, artists, and administration to bring color and inspiration to schools.
Robert de Los Rios has gained credibility and respect from artists all around the world for the right attitude and organizational quality. When in Miami for Art Basel, many of the best-accomplished muralists are showing their support of the project. Even though no one is being paid, the artists appreciate the intrinsic motivation behind this project and happily contribute to the school their artworks.
Since 2014, over 80 artists came together. As a result, school enrolment among the community was expanded. More kids were coming back to school, and class attendance increased. There was an increase in test scores as well, school pride, and a decrease in bullying and violence, according to the RAW. The data proved that arts can benefit schools through enthusiasm. In addition to spearheading the mural aspect, RAW Projects also works with the schools to teach art education in the classroom.
In 2016, RAW expanded as a campaign to support the creation of arts programs at schools nationwide. In partnership with Audrey Sykes, the pair’s first undertaking was Jose de Diego Middle School. Just a few blocks away, at Eneida M. Hartner Elementary Robert conceived something unusual for 2019 edition. He invited artists who participated in 2016 to repaint their artworks. Thus, Shepard Fairey, INO, Case Maclaim, Marina Capdevila, Kevin Ledo and more painted a fresh mural over an old one.
Among the new artists were Telmo Miel who impressed everyone with their technique and shiny warm colors. Also, an interesting collaboration created Fin DAC and Golden, decorating a “christmas” tree as part of the mural installation.
Wynwood Mural Fest
Growing popularity of Wynwood Art District created a competitive platform for galleries, event production agencies, individuals, and other stakeholders to share properties and organize their own events, murals, and mural tours. Among them Basel House Mural Festival produced by the SWARM Event Agency that GNV URBAN ART covered in 2018 as program’s official media supporter. In 2019 though, Basel House along with Superchief Gallery and Mana Decentralized partnered to produce an event under one umbrella of Wynwood Mural Fest. With the goal of highlighting artists and independent culture among cocktail crowded streets during Miami Art Week 2019 and to be on the lookout for new murals, art-tech innovations, gallery shows, industry networking events, and special activations collaborators partnered with various sponsors across the art district.
The insentive was to launch a Basel Week event that:
- Places artists in the spotlight;
- Give street artists a platform to be showcased and celebrated [in the streets];
- Facilitate collaboration and unity between creatives of different artistic disciplines and diverse geographic locations;
- Create a more engaged Wynwood community using signage and technology to educate visitors;
- Unite various independent creative activations in Wynwood during Miami Art Week under a common promotional umbrella.
Hard to say whether idea was successfull or not and difficult to differnetiate whose wall is where, however, some new beautiful artworks appeared in the Wynwood streets. Among the most significant murals prodused by the merged organizations include Caratoes surrealist huge art piece, a giant simbol of Florida, gator, depicted with a pot of tea by Saturno, murals by renowned artists Ron English, Sickid, Woes, “100 percent Miami artist” Atomik, and more.
Some of those artists and many more showcased their artworks at the Superchief Gallery. Featuring sculptures, murals, paintings and photography by over 75 of Superchief’s favorite artists. Among them Kristen Liu Wong, Kashink, Lauren YS, Anthony Lister, Jose Mertz, Caratoes, Douglas “HoxxOH” Hoekzema, Yok & Sheryo, AHOL SNIFFS GLUE, MISS VAN, to name a few. This year, Juxtapoz has given Superchief their own building, the biggest on the block.
Similarly, in addition to murals on Mana’s property, Decentralized puts artworks in the gallery space offering a comprehensive resource of programming and works priced affordably under $5,000.
Meeting of Styles
Another event that welcomes many artists but has no competition, stays true to the original graffiti artform and provides createve freedom, is an international program Meeing of Styles. Since its foundation back in 1997 more than 400 events have been realised worldwide attracting hundreds of thousands spectators and sponsoring thousands of artists throughout the world. MOS brings people together, creates publicity, supports the netting and enables intercultural cross-boarder-cooperation, providing an example how a better world of tomorrow may be possible with urban arts.
MOS’s worldwide reputation and positive impact inspires artists all around the world. If you are a graffiti-artist, rapper, DJ or breakdancer you may apply to be part of the project here!
Public Art at Convention Center
While most of public artworks in Miami are made for free, there are at least six artworks with a shared budget of over 7 million. For example, “Bent Pool” sculpture by the Scandinavian artists Elmgreen & Dragset, ranked as one of the Eight Best of Art Basel by the New York Times. Installed in front of the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami’s newly completed Pride Park. Curated by Dennis Leyva, the “father” of the original Art Basel. The sculpture has lights, a chrome ladder and made in shape of the arch through which people can walk. Although for some countries a pool is a luxury thing, it is ordinary for Miami.
Convention Center’s recent redesign appears to be the largest single percent-for-art purchase in American history. More than $600 million was allocated for the full renovation, including $7 million for the creation of a series of public artworks.
Art in Public Places (AiPP) program sets aside 1.5 percent of all capital costs stemming from public and joint private-public projects, establishing a fund specifically for the purchasing and commissioning of art.
With the goal of achieving a uniting theme, the theme for artists submitting proposals was Miami, according to Dennis Leyva, curator and program coordinator. From several hundred applicants, the committee selected six artists to join in the efforts for conceptualizing and creating public art at the Miami Beach Convention Center. During Maimai art week, artists visited the Convention Center to give a tour and personally tell about the meaning of their artworks.
Public art at the Convention Art Center encompasses sculptures, installations and an exteriour mural by German artist Franz Ackermann represented by the White Cube gallery. Typical for his vibrant style painting was titled “About Sand” and inspired by Miami’s tourism economy, urbanism, and daily ocean life. It is also reminiscent of his travel memories, complete with abstracted forms of sand, hourglasses, and roadways. Public Art Tour organized by AiPP and guided by Dennis Leyva, provided a rare opportunity to meet the artists, hear their stories, and ask questions.
Every year urban art develops more and more in Miami, genuinely deriving a status of #1 of the Top 10 Florida Urban Art Destinations attracting millions of visitors every year. From South Beach to the eclectic Wynwood Art District in the urban core of the city; from graffiti artists to represented by the White Cube; from free murals to some of $250,000 total budget. Whether expensive Franz Ackermann’s mural at Convention Center differs from those volunteerly produced at Eneida M. Hartner Elementary school, we will let you, the reader, to decide.
Wynwood Miami became home to a variety of artworks, galleries, retail stores, antique shops, eclectic bars, artisanal eateries, events, and one of the largest open-air street-art installations in the world. What is different this year, many urban artists transmitted their art into gallery space presenting both murals and canvases, and art installations. We dedicated another article solely to the to the interior urban art world of Miami. Read the next publication at gnvurbanart.com – Miami Art Week 2019. Part II: Indoor.