MIAMI’S ART ENERGY SIZZLES (EVEN WITHOUT ART BASEL)
February 25, 2016 by Sandra Hale Schulman
All the world knows that Miami is the center of the art world when Art Basel Miami Beach comes to town, bringing with it a carnival of art fairs during the first week of December every year. But South Florida residents and visitors in all seasons know that there is a terrifically vibrant art scene in Miami year-round.
To cite just three examples of this creative energy, consider these art happenings: a new garden space and murals at Wynwood Walls; Magnus Sodamin’s explosions of color transforming a neighborhood; and the red fabric installation at the Bass Museum annex at the Miami Beach Library.
“Walls of Change” Goes Big in Wynwood
Miami’s Wynwood Walls project continues to dominate the regional mural conversation, with the enormous new Wynwood Walls Garden space as well as a new indoor gallery space woven into the project’s curatorial theme of “The Art of Collaboration.”
“Walls of Change,” created for Miami Art Week 2015 in December, features 14 new murals and installations in the newly completed back courtyard that is Wynwood Walls Garden. Officially opened in December, the garden space represents another project spearheaded by Goldman Properties, the real-estate and urban development company that revitalized/gentrified the area after revitalizing Soho in New York in the 1970s and South Miami Beach in the 1980s.
Prior to his appointment in 2010 as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles—a post he resigned in 2013—curator Jeffrey Deitch co-curated the original exhibition of murals in the original courtyard space by the restaurant. For Wynwood Walls Garden, Goldman Properties commissioned the Spanish murals team of Pichi and Avo to create works on discarded, repurposed metal shipping containers, and then stacked them on top of each other to create an installation sculpture.
Five U.S. muralists — Crash, Cryptik, Hueman, Logan Hicks, and Magnus Sodamin — were chosen to join international artists to create an array of large murals for the Wynwood Walls Garden space curated by Goldman Properties CEO Jessica Goldman Srebnick, the daughter of Goldman Properties founder, the late Tony Goldman.
The international artists included: Case (Germany), el Seed (France), Ernest Zacharevic (Singapore), Fafi (France), INTI (Chile), the London Police (UK), Pichi & Avo (Spain), and Alexis Diaz (Puerto Rico).
Coconut Grove’s award-winning design firm PlusUrbia worked in conjunction with Goldman Properties to conceptualize the space, carving out angular pathways, slanted planters, and landscaped nooks for sitting and gazing. It’s a pretty breathtaking space, solely designed for mural viewing.
Santiago Eliaschev, director of architecture at PlusUrbia, noted in a press release that “the idea was to take the Wynwood Walls and Doors concept a step further by merging art and nature. The garden itself was designed around sight lines and vantage points to experience the murals. In essence, the garden functions as a stage where the murals are the protagonists. It’s a serene place to relax in the shade, a retreat from the concrete and asphalt.”
According to the Real Deal website, the Wynwood Walls Garden could soon be home to a restaurant or other retail space, which would join the popular Goldman family eateries flanking the original Wynwood Walls: Joey’s Italian Café and Wynwood Kitchen & Bar.
For now, though, the space is open to the public, now free from Art Basel and Miami Art Week traffic and tourists.
“Wynwood is about exploration and discovery as much as it is edgy and unrefined," Eliaschev added. "We incorporate all these elements into an urban landscape, an oasis that enhances the way you experience art.”
“In whatever way this space is used,” he concluded, “we hope people can appreciate and experience how art and architecture and landscape can be combined to create a unique place.”