Wynwood Walls is a noteworthy mural program in the Wynwood District of Miami. It has brought a number talented of artists to Miami to paint walls, and I’m under the impression that these artists are rewarded handsomely for their work. So far, so good. The project was started by Tony Goldman, a real estate developer. For this reason, Wynwood Walls has always been a bit controversial. To put it simply, Goldman is banking on commissioned murals by street artists and graffiti artists/writers to help quickly gentrify the neighborhood of Wynwood, where his company has significant property holdings. Okay, so that’s going to be controversial, but personally I think both sides of that issue have some good points. While Wynwood Walls has made me uncomfortable in the past with their high-culture and very dollar-sign focused take on murals, at the end of the day Wynwood has more walls painted by great artists because of Wynwood Walls and the neighborhood is on the upswing. But I’m digressing with history and politics before I even get to my main point: Wynwood Walls was not the first mural project in Wynwood, nor the largest, nor the most important. Before Wynwood Walls came along, the district was known in the street art and graffiti worlds for Primary Flight, quite likely the largest mural festival ever held with over 250 participants since 2007. While Primary Flight is not going to have quite as strong of a presence this year as it has in years past (both festivals are held over the first week of December), Primary Flight has undoubtedly been the superior festival to Wynwood Walls in size and the locations of walls in the past. This year, Wynwood Walls has ramped things up and Primary Flight has slowed things down, so it remains to be seen which will be the bigger festival, but the idea of Wynwood as a mural district certainly stems from Primary Flight’s work. Wynwood Walls took a version of Primary Flight’s idea, added their personal spin to it and started up a few years later in the same neighborhood as Primary Flight.
Given that history, I at first found it surprising that a recent docuseries about Wynwood is telling such a different story: Here Comes The Neighborhood. The series is described as “a Short-Form Docuseries exploring the power of Public Art and innovation to uplift and revitalize urban communities,” and supposedly tells the story of how Wynwood has been improved by murals. Unfortunately, the series is not at all what it claims. Tony Goldman, the man behind Wynwood Walls, is the executive producer of Here Comes The Neighborhood. When you know that, it becomes a lot more clear as to why the video series is, so far, a bit of a circle-jerk of Wynwood Walls participants talking about how great the project is, save for about 20 seconds mentioning Primary Flight and Gaia’s joke that the main Wynwood Walls complex might be “where art goes to die, to a certain extent.”
The Wynwood Walls website and the Here Comes The Neighbordhood website are even worse, with absolutely no mention of Primary Flight or the graffiti and street art in Wynwood that preceded either festival. Of course people and companies can say what they want about their projects so Wynwood Walls and this video series could just tell the story of Wynwood Walls and not mention Primary Flight, but I do take issue with them claiming to tell a history of art in the area and practically writing out the organization responsible for the majority of Wynwood’s murals. Based on a quick estimate, the Here Comes The Neighborhood trailer includes at least 6 of the murals affiliated with Primary Flight rather than Wynwood Walls, as were 8 artists affiliated with Primary Flight rather than Wynwood Walls, 9 artists shown who worked with Primary Flight before Wynwood Walls and 1 who worked with both Primary Flight and Wynwood Walls during her first trip to Miami. So clearly the makers of Here Comes The Neighborhood like and know about the murals for which Primary Flight is responsible, but have for some unknown reason neglected to give Primary Flight due credit for their contribution to Wynwood.
So with their twisting of history in mind, here’s the trailer for and the first two episodes of Here Comes The Neighborhood, which at least does show some great artwork if you can get past their gross distortions:
Escif painted that mural outside of Graffiti Gone Global’s Fresh Produce show in Miami last week. While Basel Miami and the associated events aren’t all about money, it’s certainly on everyone’s minds. That doesn’t mean that the shows were bad though. There was actually a lot of great art on display for those who took the time to look. Here are some of the indoor highlights (unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera with me besides my cameraphone, so I have to link to other peoples’ coverage of everything):
Amazingly, Sanrio’s Hello Kitty show was, by all accounts, actually pretty good. I stuck to my vow of not checking out the show myself (okay, actually, once I changed my mind and wanted to see it, the show was close both times I tried to stop by). Of course it looks like there was some crap and boring pandering to the brand, but there seem to be a few decent paintings in there too. Also, it was super crowded every time I walked by, so hopefully those visitors who were there for Sanrio’s show also saw some of the other great shows nearby.
Retna‘s solo show, Silver Lining, at Primary Projects was his first show since being on the cover of Juxtapoz. After landing in Miami last Thursday evening, I went to straight from the airport to Primary Projects to catch the end of this opening. There was a little bit of something for everyone: installations, canvas, monotype prints, work on old doors and more. Oddly enough, it was the more refined work that didn’t appeal to me. For me, the canvases seemed to be lacking that spark that makes Retna’s work so amazing. Everything else was a real treat though. The watercolors and monotypes in particular were beautiful. This show is still running, so any Miami residents who haven’t seen it yet really should stop by. For the rest of the world Arrested Motion took photos.
Lastly, I want to mention New Image Art‘s pop-up show. There was some new artwork by Judith Supine, Os Gêmeos, Bast and others, as well as a bunch of photos by Neckface and his friends, which are 100x more interesting than I had expected them to be. Here are a few photos from that show:
This is probably most, if not all, if the coverage I’ll be giving to indoor things at Basel Miami, but I’ll be posting a lot more about the murals and other outdoor events in the coming days.
With so much of the art world migrating to Miami this week in a frenzy, there seem to be too many events and parties (and I promise not to blog about the parties in detail. This isn’t a gossip site) and exhibits and festivals and everything else to keep track of. Here’s a roundup of some of the things that I’m most interested in seeing (or not seeing).
Things that have already been mentioned on Vandalog:
Last year, OHWOW Gallery’s It Ain’t Fair show was one of the most interesting shows in Miami. Once again, they have a killer line up for the show including José Parlá, Rey Parlá (José’s brother who is, I believe, a filmmaker), KAWS, Phil Frost, Barry McGee and Neckface.
Carmichael Gallery, Joshua Liner Gallery and others will have booths at SCOPE, and I think Maya Hayuk is painting a mural there, which should be awesome if I’m remembering that correctly.
And of course there’s all the fairs I haven’t mentioned, because there are just so many. So many. Too many. It’s gonna be art overload. But if I’ve missed anything that you think is particularly special, please leave a comment.
Ron English just finished a mural and sculpture garden sort of installation in Miami as part of Wynwood Walls. I’m not a huge fan of pop surrealism myself (although I really respect what Ron and other artists in that genre do), but damn those Ron English fans must be going crazy right now looking at this thing. It’s a mural that then extends off the walls and includes some of his camo-dear sculptures (which I love). Hi Fructose has more images.
And Shepard Fairey has finished his installation at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, as mentioned the other day. The restaurant isn’t open yet, but it should be ready for Basel Miami week at the start of December.
The City of Miami has taken a giant step forward by recognizing the value of street art and officially designating the Wynwood Arts District as the “Wynwood Mural Museum”. Under the auspices of Primary Flight, artists will be descending en masse during Art Basel 2010 to paint an unprecedented number of walls.
There are a lot of pictures out there of Nunca’s wall for the Deitch/Goldman Wynwood Walls Project during Art Basel Miami as it looked at the opening party, but not so many people saw the finished piece. Nunca continued to work on the characters, coloring and background details right up until late Sunday night, and, as you can see from the photo above, developed his mural from something really good into something spectacular. Take a closer look below:
In case you missed what Aiko, Nina, Shepard, osgemeos, Barry McGee and Clare Rojas were working on around Nunca, check out more of my photos of The Wynwood Walls here, here and here.