I had the pleasure of being a “snowbird” and escaping the cold to fly south for the winter to Miami, Florida. Originally invited for a family wedding, my husband and I used the time away from home as an excuse to explore the lesser known places in the 305. Everyone knows about the beaches, but what about the art?
Miami is having a contemporary, cultural renaissance! The constantly shifting roster of visual arts organizations in the coastal town provides tons of vacation stimulation. It’s not just the historic, Deco District anymore. I recommend visiting the Rubell Family Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) at North Miami, de la Cruz Collection, PAMM | Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Lowe Art Museum.
My favorite neighborhood and cultural space is The Wynwood Art District. This warehouse laden landscape is home to over 70 galleries, museums and collections. Originally part of a textile manufacturing region, the area is flurried with abandoned factories and lofts turned exhibition spaces. The paved streets are still packed with garbage bins, discarded signs, and broken windows but that only adds to the character. In this way, the neighborhood reminds me of SoHo’s gentrification cycle.
The outdoor, expansive murals are vivid, vibrant and awe-inspiring. This is where graffiti masterpieces go on display. Conceived in 2009, a special area known as Wynwood Walls has brought the world’s greatest artists working in the graffiti and street art genre to Miami. While I was visiting, I was lucky enough to see some artists in action. It’s not rare to see walls fenced off so that a new mural can pop up over the course of a few days!
A lot of the art is inside buildings, and hidden just beyond unmarked doors, but most of it can be seen from the car, or by walking through the district – smack-dab on the wall themselves. For example, I discovered these hidden sewer Ninja Turtles just by looking downward! Sometimes the art is even on rooftops. It’s like a giant I Spy. You can treat yourself to the works of Kashink, Chor Boogie, Trek6, Os Gemeos, How & Nosm, FAILE, Invader, Liqen, Nunca, Shepard Fairey, and Miss Van.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and do not know where to begin your hunt for murals, I highly recommend joining The Art Experience tour by Susana Baker. Baker is personable, candid and passionate about her neighborhood and knows tons of hidden gems. We became fast friends! She even modeled for the inimitable Bert Stern during her NYC years.
Founded by the late Tony Goldman in 2009, the walls transformed the warehouse district of Wynwood, based on a simple idea: “Wynwood’s large stock of warehouse buildings, all with no windows, would be my giant canvases to bring to them the greatest street art ever seen in one place.” Artists are invited on a yearly basis from around the world to paint, re-paint, spray and tag various areas. The hip bars, boutiques and restaurants (Mandolin, Sugarcane) followed.
A deep spiritual healing and recovery from addiction nearly a decade ago transformed Chor Boogie’s life and has had a major impact in his style, resulting in what he calls “color therapy.” You can see his works throughout the entire district. They have a very specific aesthetic and often feature rainbow mosaics. In the image below right you can see the work “UNIVERSAL CONNECTION 2” in which man and woman try to speak through an alien.