Wynwood Walls--Miami's Other Outdoor Museum

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Spray cans, toxic fumes, gas masks...these are the tools of local artists in the new age of art--sanctioned graffiti art. Yes spotlighted and commissioned in the edgy part of town--Wynwood, the latest hot spot and second outdoor museum after South Beach's Art Deco district and architecture.  

Wynwood Walls graffiti art Miami art walk

Wynwood Walls Shepard Fairey graffiti art
The mural inside the gated Wynwood Walls exhibit

Across the bridge from the beach on the mainline adjoining the Design District, this former warehousing and manufacturing district of the garment industry, Wynwood fell prey to blight as a result of the demise of the train and later racial tensions in the city's darkest point in history in the late 70s.  Today it is the hottest destination for bars, restaurants and art for tourists and locals alike.

 This wild and woolly part of town is now frequented by fashionistas, photographers, people young and old, blue collar, academics all unified by a universal language--art.

I love leopards.
Sleek, graceful but also strong and intelligent creatures.

While a gallery featuring million dollar artwork such as Warhol and Lichenstein sits a few blocks from Wynwood Walls, it's the work of blue-chip graffiti artists like Shepard Fairey and Banksy which are heralded in the warehouses-turned-art galleries.

What was once illegal, is now celebrated.   The walls are no longer "bombed" or "tagged" but serve as a welcoming canvas for the once-forbidden graffiti artists. People from all over the world travel to admire artwork from artists with names equally rebellious such as Clandestine Culture and Ahol Sniffs Glue.

I've visited Wynwood at night on several occasions. First it was for the euphoric Art Basel, one of the largest art festivals in the country. Then it was for dinner with friends. But recently I visited Wynwood in the daytime before meeting friends for brunch. The graffiti, no longer appeared like looming chaotic images from a hallucinogen but rather they tell a story. I tell stories for a living, an oral storyteller, about the history and architecture of South Beach.   The stories on Wynwood walls are told in colors, layers of paint about struggles, a time period lost, a cause, dreams...

The Mitrani gallery makes a statement about Tigers

Another exotic cat--the tiger and her cub

Tigers exotic animals graffiti art Wynwood Walls

Miami's cat woman
Standing below the mural. My matching tiger shirt was pure coincidence.

I encourage you to visit Wynwood and compare and contrast the art in the daytime and at night.You definitely want to take one of the guided tours in the daytime to gain a foundation and witness the unfurling nuances in the evening.

Mural on side of restaurant building where we had brunch.

I've heard more than once visitors and recent residents complain that Miami lacks "real art".  Well that all depends on their definition of "true art"!  Admittedly my urge was to strike them like an exotic cat, but I politely share that Miami has the Bass, PAMM and MOCA museums, South Beach has Art Deco, Wynwood has graffiti. No we are not New York City. We have our own influences and identity. Art Deco and Wynwood Walls coexist only a mile apart exalting the diverse artistic landscape, one that draws people not inside galleries, but to the streets. This is what separates Miami art culture from other cities.  As a resident, creative person and aficionado of the fresh outdoors, there is no place like Miami and Miami art. Miami continues to live up to it's anointed  name--the Magic City.

Christine Michaels Wynwood Walls Sexy Cat Lady
Vibing my inner tiger.

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