Graffiti and related street art have historically gotten a bad rap, with cities worldwide spending resources to eradicate and chase away the budding artists that find inspiration in gritty city streets, and who traditionally use blank concrete walls found on semi-abandoned warehouses, freeway overpasses and the like as their canvas. The move against street art has been steadily changing towards an appreciation of its value as a cultural resource. One can today find street art in most major cities around the globe where it is appreciated by residents and visitors alike. The city of Miami is one of these places, where fueled by the vibrant art scene that for years has orbited the grandaddy of art events known as Art Basel, and aided by the”laissez-faire” vibe of this tropical city, street artists have had pretty much free reign over a once blighted area known as Wynwood. In 2009 NYC and SOBE visionary and real estate maverick, Tony Goldman helped create the central core that started the ball rolling: The Wynwood Walls project. He invited globally renowned street artists to paint properties he had invested in. This creative seed sprouted into what is currently one of the more artsy and vibrant neighborhoods in the country, the Wynwood Arts District.
Today one can walk around Wynwood and enjoy block after block of colorful murals that keep expanding outward in all directions from the epicenter at NW 2nd Avenue. From sophisticated and spiritual depictions of deities and mandalas to fantasy-laden tableaus, political statements painted onto sidewalks, cubism and geometric arrangements and plenty of gritty graffiti and pop-art there is something for everybody here. You may recognize the works of Shepard Fairey, who created the famous Obama “Hope” poster, marvel at French street artist Miss Vans female “Poupes” or be awed by the bright and comic-book like art by NYC artist Crash. Get into a transcendent mood with Cryptik’s mix of Eastern philosophies, calligraphy, and iconic imagery or feel the whimsy and allure of the fairy tale style works depicted by Eastern European duo Interesni Kasni.
It is not only wall murals that can be enjoyed here, however, painted doors, sculptural installations, and several art galleries and mixed boutique-slash-art spaces all showcase artistic items of varied kinds. Stop in at Plant the Future for a spell to take in their pristine and meticulously arranged succulents, artfully planted in a plethora of white ceramic containers. Life-sized Unicorns, giant Munny dolls, suspended glass terrariums or assorted tabletop bowls sprinkled with tiny white rabbits house these hardy plants that double as living art. Creative restaurants and cafes scattered about the area give you a chance to relax and grab a bite or drink between your art appreciation walk stops. The Wynwood Kitchen Restaurant even surrounds you with beautiful murals while seated on their outdoor patio.
For art aficionados who can’t make it to Miami, as well as locals who would like to learn more about the creative movement that shaped the Wynwood Art District there is a phenomenal series of videos about it all at the Here Comes the Neighborhood section of The Wynwood Walls website. You will also find detailed biographies and information about many of the artists who have made these neighborhood buildings and warehouses their (semi) permanent canvases. Another fun and informative resource is the Wynwood Murals page where you will find archives of murals by year as well as current info and blog posts on mural art and events.