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Entering Assume Vivid Astro Focus’s labyrinth at Wynwood Walls

I really don’t know what happened to Wynwood Walls, but this year’s event was a major let down after last year’s fun-filled festivities. If last year’s evening bash was an unexpected mix of murals, Sissy Bounce, and bold-faced art names, all organized by Jeffrey Deitch, this year’s event is reputedly the work of Deitch’s “ghost” dealer, Kathy Grayson, whose The Hole Gallery has been trying to fill the gap left by Deitch.

This was opening night and it felt like a casual block party. Maybe it was the new restaurant that sits on the corner of the property that reigned in the freak antics, but the energy was (unfortunately) more subdued than I expected.

The main artistic draw was Assume Vivid Astro Focus’s “experimental labryinth,” which felt less consciousness expanding and more navel-gazing with its endless arrange of patterns stacked in jagged forms. Another major attraction was Kenny Scharf’s Airstream trailer. No one does zany better than the king of 80s psychedelia and this walk-in installation was classic East Village pop.

I was also expecting some new exciting murals — it is Wynwood Walls, after all — but most of them were left over from last year and the news ones were uneven. One new mural by Ron English was a showstopper, and there were other works by Jeff Soto and Logan Hicks which were quite good, but then there was the mural by Dearraindrop, which was a mess of dull doodles and I-don’t-want-to-grow-up imagery.

The whole affair felt random and unorganized, like most art influenced by psychotropic drugs, but let’s just say I forgot my stash at home.

You should also read RJ’s thoughts on Wynwood Walls in general. I share his apprehension that this event really isn’t about art anymore (or maybe it never was) but about gentrification.

I honestly don’t understand what some people see in Dearraindrop, the artists behind this polite mural on the wall of Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, which sits at the corner of the Goldman property.

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An installation by FriendsWithYou, which reminded me of accreditation-impaired Rob Pruitt, whose last show included similar over-sized tires.

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This man with a mask on his head, a baby slinged to his chest and a beer in his hand is my hero. In front of the Aiko mural he looked like a superstar.

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Black light mural by Coco 144 & P.H.A.S.E. 2 meets DJ booth, coincidentally the music was being DJ’d off an iPad.

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These deer sculptures are by Ron English and I have to say that I found them a little forgettable. The murals in the back are by (left) Logan Hicks and (right) Jeff Soto.

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Kenny Scharf’s Airstream was a highlight of Wynwood Walls 2010.

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A black light extravaganza awaited you inside, but the rules said that only four people could be in the trailer at any one time.

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Some in the trailer with me mentioned he thought it reminded him of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, though that was designed by Gary Panther, not Scharf, but point taken.

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More stuff Scharf-ized.

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One of the big draws was supposed to be the Assume Vivid Astro Focus Labyrinth, but I found it aesthetically pedestrian.

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Artist Man Bartlett agrees to don Assume Vivid Astro Focus’s invitation/mask for a photo in the maze.

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The whole Assume Vivid Astro Focus maze felt rushed and not transformative as much as a giant sketch book of patterns.

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This Ron English mural may appear cheesy in the photo but it was rather impressive in person. Something about the drawing and light made it all feel dreamy and atmospheric. I had never seen a mural transform a space so completely using only a few sculptures and some floor painting.

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While technically the Peter Tunney show wasn’t part of Wynwood Walls, it was smack dab in the middle of it. The less I say about this show the better, as it was awful.

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Wynwood Walls is located at corner of NW 26th Street and NW 2nd Avenue in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, Florida, and it will continue until Sunday, December 5, 2010 (noon to 11pm). Wynwood Walls is normally open Wednesday – Saturday, noon to 8 pm. It is also open every second Saturday of each month from noon to 11 pm in conjunction with Wynwood Gallery Walk

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

3 replies on “Not Drinking the Kool-aid at Wynwood Walls”

  1. Looks a bit dead there to be honest, and I agree about the maze…it’s like a giant wallpaper pattern book. The black light mural and the trailer are ok, but then again, not really much different to the interior of a rave club from 20 years ago.

  2. I agree with you about this show…. quite awful but the backlight mural is by mcginness i believe not coco & phase

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