Miami is known for its wild nightlife, amazing coastline and great cuisine. But it is also home to a thriving art scene beyond your wildest dreams. If you've never been, prepare to be amazed, especially if you go in early December during Art Basel Miami Beach, when the urban landscape is transformed before your very eyes.
Concentrated around the Wynwood Arts District, it is an al fresco gallery of art covering over 80,000 square feet of walls. The idea spawned from the mind of the late American real estate developer, Tony Goldman, as a way to transform the warehouse district, whose windowless walls provided the perfect canvas for large murals, into the world's largest outdoor gallery. In 2009, he started with 6 buildings, which became known as the Wynwood Walls. The following year, he added 10 more artists and created the Wynwood Doors, an extension of his previous year's work. From there, it has escalated beyond imagination and is constantly being reconceived and revitalized. It was to be a meeting place for a diverse body of artists, American and international alike, encompassing the work of old school graffiti artists as well as the newest work from around the world. The art has now spread beyond the walls of Wynwood to surrounding neighborhoods, such as Little Haiti, Allapattah, and even Hialeah.
Last December was my first foray to the Walls, during the international art fair known as Art Basel Miami Beach, which is an art fair showcasing work from leading galleries worldwide. During the course of just over a week, hundreds of artists descended on Southern Florida to paint, creating masterpieces worthy of a spot in elite museums, but instead made accessible to all of the local residents and throngs of art-minded visitors who come here to see the latest and greatest in the art world.
I went back recently to check out any work I may have missed since my first visit and was pleasantly surprised to see that there was actually quite a bit that was new, either because older work had been painted over, or fresh walls had come into being. There is so much eye candy, you can't expect to see it all in one visit, so don't even try. But you will be heavily rewarded just zig-zagging through the streets. Here are some of the completed walls I saw during my first visit, as well as some new ones that have been added:
Come early December, many of these walls will be buffed and transformed once again by a new crop of artists during this year's Art Basel. I can't wait to see what beauty is in store for me in just over a month's time. Oh, and be sure to wear comfortable shoes! (I logged 22 miles in just one day traversing the streets in search of all things beautiful!)
And be sure to schedule in some time to visit a few schools while in town. In addition to the art of the Wynwood Walls, The RAW Project, which stands for "Re-Imagining the Arts Worldwide", recently beautified two local schools, Eneida Hartner Elementary School and Jose de Diego Elementary School. Artists such as Zed1, Paola Delfin and Pixel Pancho were invited, along with other incredible artists, to add some color to these campuses, leaving the students and teachers with an incredible gift of artistic inspiration.
Here are some of the beautiful works at the schools in Miami.(See my "On the Road: Denver" story which includes work in The RAW Project's second city.)
So, if you haven't booked your flights for Art Basel Miami, there is still time! The event will be held this year December 7th-10th, but if you want to beat the throngs of visitors over the weekend, plan to visit even a few days early to catch some artists working on their walls. It is an experience you won't soon forget!