Earlier this month, I traveled to Miami where I finally got to experience a renowned staple of Art Basel and the city itself: the Wynwood Walls. As I made my way through the crowds of Florida locals and nonnatives like myself, all equally excited and buzzed off each other’s energy, I made many friends – all of which were the walls themselves. The decorated and lively canvases plastered on the buildings’ faces seemed to jump right out and speak to me, as if to say, “We’ve been waiting for you.”
My friend Talia at one of the walls.
A little background information: the Wynwood Walls were created in 2009 by “community revitalizer and placemaker,” Tony Goldman. He wanted to transform the warehouse district of Wynwood into something artful and bigger when he arrived at a simple, but poignant idea: “Wynwood’s large stock of warehouse buildings, all with no windows, would be my giant canvases to bring to them the greatest street art ever seen in one place.”
Since then, Goldman’s seed has quickly flourished into what is now a fully grown tree of life: a center where people can develop their artistry and explore graffiti and street art; the specific genre of art chosen because of how it has been historically overlooked. “By presenting it in a way that has not been done before,” he says, “I was able to expose the public to something they had only seen peripherally.” Today, the now-enormous project has seen over 50 artists representing 16 countries and has covered over 80,000 square feet of space.
Me and Talia at one of the many free galleries in the area.
And frankly, it’s a wonderful place to be – one that’s free of entry charges (donations are welcomed) and pesky lines. The spirit of each artist jumps right off the walls, exuberating a genuine sense of vitality and independent thought. The sight of each artwork makes you jitter with awe and excitement, as you try to gauge what the artist meant by each stroke of the paintbrush or aim of the spray can.
My friend Karen at one of the walls.
What’s more, those who visit – those standing shoulder to shoulder with you – seem to be just as enthralled as you are. And this further excites you, making the experience not only personal, but also communal. Also, with an abundance of yummy bites, savory drinks, and sun-kissed folks surrounding you, there’s no way you can’t have a good time. Truly.
One of the many walls at Wynwood – artist unknown.
So, if you’re in Miami, don’t miss out on the yearlong experience that is known for bringing cool to the Sunshine State.