Pilgrimage to the Street Art Mecca
One of the major highlights of my stay in Miami was finally getting to visit The Wynwood Walls – something that has been on my to-do list practically forever (for purists, forever would mean since 2009, when WW was conceived). As a Street Art specialist, I deemed it both an essential study and a prospective fountain of joy. It didn’t disappoint.
But first things first.
For those who are not familiar with Street Art protocol,
The Wynwood Walls in a nutshell:
The project was conceived by the late Tony Goldman who, on an effort to transform the warehouse district of Miami, came up with the idea of using Wynwood’s warehouse buildings as giant canvases to host the greatest Street Art ever seen in one place. And this is exactly what it is: a veritable Museum of the Streets, featuring a panorama of mind-blowing Street Art from around the world.
The WW consists of the actual Wynwood Walls park, the Wynwood Doors, the Wynwood Garden and the Outside The Walls murals, that spread through the surrounding neighborhood. Needless to say, there are several unofficial murals that add extra spice to the mix.
My visit to Wynwood Walls took place in November, right before Art Basel Miami time, meaning several exciting new murals will have emerged by now. This is a last minute nod to the 2016 situation – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Over-zealous and anxious not to miss out on any of the action, I opted to approach the hotspot on foot, starting from Miami’s Museum Area. This I do not recommend; it involved infinite fruitless walking within quasi-deserted streets & being catcalled by truck-drivers, manifesting out of nowhere every few minutes. It took a while before I run into my first wall. For compensation purposes it was a giant Shepard Fairey (see. above).
After that art pieces started popping up here and there. You can tell you are approaching the hot zone by the increased frequency in encountering murals.
The action spreads across several blocks, towards all directions – it is quite a stretch if you are determined to discover it all. The rectangle between NW 6th Ave – NW 29th St. – N Miami Ave – NW 22nd St encases the majority of the works, but there is several top quality murals outside it as well.
Anticipation peaks upon reaching the actual WW area. The surrounding streets resemble a giant art installation, with walls being entirely covered in vibrant art. There is virtually no spot that has escaped the artistic makeover.
The Wynwood Walls park itself is, of course, the pièce de résistance. Located on NW 2nd Avenue, between NW 26th and NW 25th (thank you officer), it hides an avalanche of treasures inside its gates and features an all star cast of international Street Artists.
It is difficult to describe how I felt inside WW. Humbled, star-struck, ecstatic all fit the occasion but words, ultimately, fail to capture the experience. In this case images can articulate it better.
Artists currently “on show” include Os Gemeos, Kenny Scharf, FUTURA 2000, FAILE & BÄST, Shepard Fairey, Aiko, HOW & NOSM, Retna, Ron English, Logan Hicks, Gaia, Vhils, Swoon, DALeast, Faith 47, Miss Van, Fafi, Maya Hayuk and The London Police, among others.
If you have an interest in Street Art, this place is nothing short of a temple. If you are not yet aquainted with it, it constitutes an amazing opportunity to get to know some great art characteristic of right now.
You don’t need to be an expert to appreciate the beauty of the WW. The place was packed with people who were just having fun, appreciating the striking environment. Interestingly, there were a lot of families, with young kids enthusiastically interacting with the art. Needless to say WW is also a “selfie” heaven.
There is something about being surrounded by the giant murals, all the world class art, that makes one feel elated; it empties the mind and clears the soul. The energy of the space is amazing, a proper “happy place”.
As a bonus, there are several galleries in the neighborhood, showcasing equally fresh art, aptly complementing the experience.
After or during your visit you can relax at the WW in-house restaurant or try one of the several area locals. A tried and tested choice is the popular Panther cafe on NW 2nd Ave, also offering free wi-fi and some much-needed shade, courtesy of its yard’s massive tree.
I spend 4 hours walking around the Wynwood area, completely losing track of time, and I know I have missed dozens of pieces. Still, it made for the most exciting memory of my Miami stint and I cannot wait to return there. If you can only do one thing in MIA, go there. Ok, maybe after going to South Beach.
Visiting Wynwood is free and it is open daily from morning to very late at night.
You can find the full info HERE.
NOTE: All photos are from my private stash. You can see the official cut for Wynwood Walls over at artAZ.
*Main Image, Spectacular Wall by D*Face