A few years ago, Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood was beyond the pale for most casual visitors to Miami, who were much more likely to head east, to the more straightforward pleasures of Miami Beach and Lincoln Road. Now, with its dozens of art galleries joined by a smattering of restaurants and nightclubs, Wynwood’s got much more to recommend it. For many of the art-lovers who are pulling into town for this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, which runs from December 2 to 5, it’s just about a must-see, especially if they have any interest in street art.
One of the most vivid changes to Wynwood has been the addition of murals that have been added to this somewhat blighted landscape of warehouses and barbed wire. Since it started in 2007, the group Primary Flight has placed the works of hundreds of artists on walls in and around the Wynwood Arts District (from NW 20th Street to NW 36th Street), as well as in the adjoining Miami’s Design District, to the north. Over 30 murals will be being added to the mix by the end of this year’s Basel.
Another project, Wynwood Walls, mines the same vein of street art and artists, although it’s a separate enterprise. It was cooked up last year by the real-estate developer Tony Goldman and art impresario Jeffry Deitch. Centered around properties owned by Goldman Projects, this courtyard includes more than just murals. Also on display this year is a vintage Airstream trailer that’s been touched up by 80s art legend Kenny Scharf, as well as a number of steel-front rolling doors (like those at a loading dock). The doors, more than 176 feet of them, will be worked over by 70s-era innovators Phase II and CoCo144. There’s also a sticker wall ready to be covered with as much adhesive art as possible.
Steps away is the Wynwood Kitchen & Bar (2550 N.W. 2nd Ave.), which opened on Friday. Artworks Shepherd Fairey and Christian Awe grace the interiors; the art collective Dearraindrop took on the outdoor courtyard.
The Primary Flight and Wynwood Walls projects join the 70-odd art galleries in Wynwood as well as several other forward-thinking institutions, including the Rubell Family Collection. Its massive exhibit of contemporary works, “How Soon Now,” opens on December 1. In Miami’s nearby Midtown, a batch of satellite art fairs will be running at roughly the same time as Art Basel. These include a branch of the Scope contemporary art fair, Art Miami, and Photo Miami.
As for Art Basel itself, the works by over 2,000 artists will be on display at the Miami Convention Center, but as usual, the madness won’t be contained there. The Oceanfront, Creative Time’s nightly party, runs from Dec. 1 to 4. Each night will be given over to DJs, art, and performances from a different city, including Detroit, Mexico City, Berlin, and Glasgow. Above it all will be a sculpture, designed by the Phu Hoang Office and Rachely Rotem Studio, made of shiny and glow-in-the-dark ropes.