Wynwood Walls and Doors in Miami celebrates the incredible art form of street graffiti. It creates the perfect “museum” for street graffiti art: a gorgeous park in an industrial neighborhood of Miami. Traditional museums offer an astounding wide variety of artist, styles, and genres. But most don’t feature the fun works of street graffiti artists. Street art is meant to be seen outside and surrounded by people. Wynwood Walls provides this amazing experience showcasing some of the leading street artists in the world! The Wynwood Art district is a must visit for any art lover or visitor to Miami. My daughter, who is a non-art lover, was wowed by the spot. It’s super hip, very cool and just simply awesome.
Until the 1990s, Wynwood was the district in Miami that housed Miami’s garment district as well as home to a large Caribbean immigrant community. The area was suffering from an economic depression filled with derelict warehouses and other unused building. In the early 2000s, a movement began to revitalize the area. It was street art that really brought change to the area. The Wynwood Walls helped to bring artists from all over the world to the area giving them large warehouse walls to use as their canvases. Murals adorn much of the neighborhood which is now home to art galleries, eclectic shops, bars, and artisanal cafes. It is also home to the largest open air street art installations in the world. You can’t help but feel the creativity buzzing in the air as you walk around.
The Wynwood Walls and Doors are credited with sparking the major transformation of this Miami area. In 2009, Tony Goldman, an entrepreneur, developer, and patron of the arts, had the idea to bring the greatest street artists to the warehouse district. He began with artists painting walls of 6 separate warehouses with the walls acting as giants canvases. He hoped to expose the public to the underrated art form. The transformation of the area into park created a destination people began to explore. By 2010, 10 more artists were added as well as the Wynwood Doors, which allowed for more artists and smaller works.
The Doors paid homage to a traditional portrait gallery. The Doors also include roll down, black metal gates which become part of the installation themselves. They allude to the inner-city street and its characteristics; the gates can be rolled up creating an art surprise behind them. The works on the doors are smaller in scale but just as inspiring, creative and amazing as the walls. Today outside of the Walls murals have also been created on various buildings surrounding the park. In the first year, the area clearly became a Museum of the Streets. Since then, Wynwood has featured 90 artists from 20 countries covering over 85,000 square feet of walls.
Each Wall and Door are so unique! Their messages are all different but all powerful. Walking around the park examining the murals is so cool; you might even see an artist working. The experience is not just for viewing the different works. Its very interactive! We had so much fun posing and taking photos by each mural. I had so many favorites; it was hard to pick a few. But I’ve highlighted some that I think are a must see!
Upon entering the Walls, visitors are greeted by a wonderful mural filled with cartoon like characters by the incredible Kenny Scharf. I had just visited his Club 57 exhibit at MoMA in NYC so I was really excited to see his work. New York based Scharf learned the graffiti technique in the 1980s. He used buildings and public spaces in NYC to create his early cartoon murals. His mural and characters reflect the speed and spontaneity of street artist. He has said that his work is inspired by the freedom of the street artist and the connection they can make with people by producing their work in the outside world. His mural is bright, cheery and fun to look at!
From Valparaiso, Chile, Initi produces one of the most thought provoking murals. His name is derived from a combination of the Incan Sun God and the Quechua word “the sun.” Starting at the age of 13, Initi creates works that combine the tradition, folklore and culture of Chile. Often his works feature distorted faces on human forms. In this work, “Codo a Codo” (or Elbow to Elbow), Initi creates a realistic portrait of laborers. He was inspired by a Lewis Hines photo of child laborers in the 1900s. It is a riveting work.
Ron English joined the Walls in its second year. From Decatur, Illinois, English loves to portray pop images like the “hulk boy” at Wynwood. He called Wynwood the “Woodstock” for artists. His mural consists of three parts. To create the colorful image on the left side, English created lines by following the light and shadows from the trees as they moved during the day. Then he colored them in with bright colors. He then created the “camo deer” which from different angles looks like its standing on the rock in front of the mural. The “hulk boy” is a popular pop culture image that English loves to portray!
In 2010, the Peter Tunney Experience Gallery opened within the walls of Wynwood. Tunney became the first tenant in the park. Peter Tunney began his professional life on Wall Street. In 1991, he opened his first gallery in NYC and never turned back. His art is mesmerizing. Tunney uses clippings from newspapers, magazines, and books to create a collage that reinterprets the words from their sources. He then paints positive quotes and messages in larger print over these collage headings. He is trying to attack and end the fear, the despair and the portrayals of destruction and greed that the media presents to society. They are truly inspiring!
Logan Hicks, a Brooklyn artist, has been featured on the Doors since 2006. I LOVED this urban landscape. Hicks bases his work on photographs he takes. This mural was based on photos he took in New York City sometime between 1 AM and 4 AM. He creates a moody image of a peaceful, quiet night which he has stated is a rare occurrence in NYC. This landscape was created on a 40 x 7 feet wall using seven layers of stencils. Each intricate stencil is made in advance and layered upon each other to create this fascinating piece.
This 2014 mural was created by Case, a German born graffiti artist. Since 1995, Case has been at the forefront of creating photo realistic graffiti. His subject is always people often with a focus on hands. Hands are his favorite as he believes “there is nothing more powerful and universal than hands.” This colorful mural is incredible to look at giving viewers insight into the power of images without words.
Alex Diaz, a Puerto Rican born artist, created his mural in 2014. Through the use of tiny black brushstrokes, Diaz creates murals that have a 3-D quality. His creates dreamlike images of metamorphous using animals. In this mural, the elephant morphs into an octopus. They are fantastic to look at due to their magical quality.
In 2015, the Spanish duo of Puchi and Avo created their first work in the United States at the Wynwood Doors. The pair, painting together since 2007, create works that combine art, architecture, culture, and space. They try to fuse urban contemporary art with a deconstruction of classical art. Their works often feature ancient gods. In this mural, we see the mighty Poseidon, the Greek God of the sea, surrounded by graffiti tags and contemporary images. Their depiction of Poseidon is unbelievable and very powerful.
After visiting the doors, we decided to exit the park and head to our favorite taco shop. On our way out, we discovered just outside of the walls two of the coolest murals created by Leon Keer. He is one of the leading painters in the world who creates 3-D Anamorphic paintings. This type of painting uses a real image but intentional distorts perspective to create an optical allusion. Viewers must look at the murals from different angles rather than straight on to see the allusion. This mural, “Picture Perfect,” is actually best viewed through a camera rather than the naked eye. The allusion can be seen much better in a picture; it looks like you are in the painting itself. This is the perfect selfie or Instagram spot!!! Due to his use of many different mediums, the mural almost seems cartoonish. Either way, Picture Perfect is so much fun and truly perfect for any picture!!
We had such a good time walking around this hip, eclectic spot in Miami. For a fun afternoon, Wynwood Walls and Doors is the perfect spot. Wander through on your own or check out the Art Walk that occurs every other week. However you explore the area, Wynwood is a fun, interesting and edgy adventure in Miami! Art lover or not everyone will love discovering this premier collection of graffiti street art!