Wynwood Art Walk Strolling Towards Success
by Raymond Herrera
Over the last decade, the Wynwood Arts District in Miami has been evolving from a decaying warehouse and manufacturing area into one of the most vibrant artistic and business communities in the country. The metamorphosis of the district was spearheaded by developers like Tony Goldman of Goldman Properties, who was also amongst those responsible for the revitalization of Soho in the 70’s, and South Beach in the 80’s. The transformation of Wynwood is a testament that his eye was still sharp when he passed away late last year. And as it was in Soho, South Beach, and Philly, this transformation happened around preserving the existing architecture, not through it’s destruction, and driven by the creative community.
The Miami Herald reported that Art Basel Miami, the international arts festival which is Wynwood’s, one of Miami’s, and one of the art world’s biggest events, matched 2011’s 50,000 attendees in 2012. And there are no visible signs this scene is slowing down. I expected that a month later, like Austin, Texas does after South by South West, Wynwood would really slow down. As we walked through the district for their Second Saturdays Wynwood Art Walk, I expected a few stragglers, and instead found it a hard to just walk next to friends. So down many of the Arts District’s streets we walked in rows, one behind the other.
As I watched the local news a few days later I came across a story that questioned the perceived success of Art Walk, and even the district itself. The report posed the question of whether or not the galleries will survive here, as the Art Walk festivities may just be attracting party people and not the collectors that spend money on art. Some even complain that there are many problems with noise, traffic, vandalism, and public intoxication. But I wonder if when visionaries were buying Warhols in the late 60s and 70s they were also buying a piece of the artist’s lifestyle, including the parties at his infamous Factory.
It is at least clear that Wynwood, the city of Miami, and South Florida are creating their own scene. What ever is still up in the air will be worked out, including how much more support the city can offer in terms of clean up crews and incentives for other businesses to open up here, which galleries are attracting buyers and great talent, and of course whether or not there will be profits. In the mean time, huge crowds of people are looking at art. Some of us actually appreciate doing so, while enjoying food, drinks, and an atmosphere that only Wynwood and it’s Second Saturdays and Art Basel bring. Tony Goldman would expect nothing less from us, and from the businesses… patience. It’s built… they have come.
Car traffic had no chance of getting through here as people flooded the street. People watched, some danced, and a few popped champagne bottles in the distance, with a mega mural by Retna as the backdrop. I’ve learned what happens next, and I wasn’t really dressed for bubbly rain.
Chivas Regal hosted this great event with complimentary cheeses, meats and breads at the Wynwood Cigar Factory. There was also a cash bar, and free hand rolled cigars for those who payed $30 for the VIP package.
Brisky Gallery hosted a diverse exhibition including murals, portraits, mixed media, sculpture, and complimentary Becks beer.
A house music cypher broke out at Wynwood Walls. Dancers were literally flipping over Brazilian graffiti artist Nunca‘s work (namely the dude in the red shirt who flipped off of one of the walls painted by the artist).
As a part of Wynwood Walls’ Art Basel exhibit, Shepard Fairey created a mural which includes the legendary Tony Goldman’s mug in golden Boss Hog regalia for a mural entitled Come Dream. It’s a modern canonization of the legend. The mural is Fairey’s trubite to Mr. Goldman.
Art Walk happens on the second Saturday of the month. Whether you go for the scene, the booze, the grub, or to find that perfect piece for behind the sofa, you will know you are part of something special, if you can find parking first.
RIP Tony Goldman.