Photo Essays

Wynwood’s Other Walls

by Hrag Vartanian on December 10, 2010

Walking or driving around Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, you’re immediately struck by the great volume of art all around, most noticeably on the wall. Some of the work is illegal but others are sanctioned through the efforts of Primary Flight, an organization which descibes itself as “Miami’s original open air museum and street level mural installation that takes place annually throughout the Wynwood Arts District and the Miami Design District.”

One gallerist told me that one “host” of a Primary Flight mural from last year loves his so much he was talking about graffiti coating it to ensure it longevity. What was remarkable about these murals, many of which were from last year, is that they look pretty much as good as the first day they were painted. Why? You could attribute their pristine state to the warm Miami weather (no snow, slush, etc.) or maybe because there isn’t a vibrant “real” art community in the neighborhood to join the street dialogue but rather an artificial one that has been welcomed as part of the city’s drive to gentrify the once crime-ridden neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine most of these murals would last more than a month in New York or LA without being marked up, I mean, I’ve honestly never seen to many pristine Shepard Fairey murals in my life. And we all know what New York graffiti writers think of Obey.

Unlike last year, this year’s additions weren’t as impressive or WOW, but there was some good stuff to see nonetheless.

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I spotted this wall Tuesday night, when I went to the Seven art fair opening in Wynwood. I immediately recognized the large Gaia wheatpaste on the left.

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On Thursday, I spotted new work by Celso and others to the left of the original street art. Notice the police car parked to the right surveying the scene.

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By Friday, there were hired painters working on a sanctioned Fiat mural where the Gaia and others were.

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Here’s a close up of UR New York, Celso and others who got up on the wall.

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If I told you the whole story about this image, it might blow your mind. But the skinny of it is that this image was originally made by artist John Lurie, whose “Bear Surprise” (2006) drawing, which was exhibited at Roebling Hall in 2005, inexplicably inspired a whole meme in Russia known as Preved Medved (Hello, Bear). This is a riff off of Preved, as it is usually know. Boy, do I love global pop culture.

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A large-scale wheatpaste hides in a corner of a dilapidated building.

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Street artists Lister was everywhere in Miami, including in this pop-up gallery show at 2320 N Miami Avenue.

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Classic Shepard Fairey.

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People were working on this 2009 Fairey mural when I got there. Turns out they were putting up a rental sign.

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Who doesn’t like the name Art Ganja?.

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This 2009 mural by Boxi was in perfect condition one year later. When I asked his dealer, Seth Carmichael, about it, he said the owner loves it and was even talking about graffiti proofing it.

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Geoff Hargadon’s (aka Hargo) CA$H FOR YOUR WARHOL signs were everywhere in Wynwood, including billboards.

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While the art on the site is disappointing (check for yourself), the name is pretty awesome.

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Aiko’s addition to this building facade last year is still pristine. I’ve never seen street art like this so well preserved.

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These works by Gaia popped up in tons of locations.

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I wasn’t a fan of this small stencil but I liked the serial placement on this street.

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This RV was everywhere and decorated by Peru Ana Ana Peru, Dain and others made it stand out.

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This was a good placement in a spot that you don’t expect to see street art. The name on the piece reads “Sterling.”

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When this person gets up, they really get up.

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These two posters were some of the best things I saw in Miami. The top one reads, “Immigrants Never Surrender,” while an Uncle Sam-like JFK warns us about hipsters … priceless.

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I like the gorilla riot cop, not sure if it is by this person or someone else, but it was well placed.

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Invader got up many places. This one was spotted in Miami Beach, though I spotted another one earlier that day, also in South Beach.

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There were murals going on everywhere. This one was probably sanctioned.

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The power of the spray can.

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This was Barry McGee’s contribution to Wynwood Walls. It is an off-site piece which decorates the facade of Panther coffee.

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