Wynwood is a neighborhood in Miami whose warehouses now contain a mixture of industry, wholesale distributors, galleries and artist studios. It’s also home to one of the largest collections of street art in the world. Above is part of a mural by the legendary Ron English [confusingly, there’s a Cincinnati-based artist also named Ron English, who sometimes sells his wares on the streets of Over-the-Rhine].
This first batch of images is from the outdoor park-type space called Wynwood Walls, owned and developed by Tony Goldman, a pivotal figure in the gentrification of SoHo and Miami Beach, and obviously doing the same in Wynwood until his death in Sep 2012. The idea for the murals actually seems to have originated with Primary Flight [as I discovered thanks to Vandalog]. In any case, the curated collection grows every year, and I’m only sharing a few favorites here.
The Date Farmers:
Stelios Faitakis‘ Allegory of Florida:
São Paulo-based artist Nunca created his first US mural here:
More creativity from Brazil in the work of the awesome Os Gemeos:
Wall Street Labyrinth by Liqen:
It seems that street artists congregate in Wynwood every year during Art Basel, and evidence of their visits can be seen throughout the neighborhood. I’m not sure if these murals originated through Primary Flight or Tony Goldman’s efforts:
This is a unique and fascinating place, definitely a must-see in Miami. The presence of the art makes the neighborhood more pedestrian-friendly than it otherwise would be. Further, it gathers some of the biggest players from all over the world into a kind of outdoor museum exhibition. But is it public art if much of it is locked away on private property? Is it street art if it’s curated? Is it graffiti if it’s legal?
Street art has its fans [I’m among them], but it’s commonly seen as a sign of a depressed area, a broken window, if you will. In the case of Wynwood, it’s actually been key to neighborhood revitalization. It’s art in the service of increasing property values and, if you follow Goldman’s strategy to its logical conclusion, the murals would eventually have a hand in pricing many creative businesses and residents out of the neighborhood.
Over the past few years, there’s been an increased focus on the arts as an economic engine. In Cincinnati, ArtsWave and the Topos Partnership released a report about the arts’ “ripple effect,” and the ArtsWave program theory states that “Sales transactions [and] Real estate asset values increase in cultural clusters.” You can see that in Wynwood as you wander past the galleries, trendy boutiques and restaurants in an area that was once a working-class Puerto Rican enclave.
All this reminds me of Detroit’s Heidelberg Project by Tyree Guyton, which is another controversial neighborhood installation and major tourist attraction, similarly using art as a catalyst, though from the ground up and from within the community. The two are not at all the same, but the strategy and methods are similar and, if you’re interested in one, you should definitely check out the other.