Art & Soul: A Local's Guide to Visiting Wynwood Walls
Perhaps no other Miami neighborhood has changed more in the past decade than the eclectic arts district known as Wynwood, a neighborhood smack in the heart of the Magic City’s urban core. With more street art than anywhere else in the U.S., it’s no surprise that a collection of murals designed by street artists is at the center of it all. Known as Wynwood Walls, the murals were first created in 2009 and helped spark the renaissance of this once neglected neighborhood now pulsing with pop-up shops, galleries, performance venues, bars and sidewalk cafes.
Today, the vibe in Wynwood manages to be cool and artsy without being pretentious. “It’s very authentic,” says Richard Rey, a musician with the local band Overhol. “All the businesses are local – the bars, the microbreweries, the art studios. You can see and taste things here that are truly original to Miami.”
You can see and taste things here that are truly original to Miami.
As tourists blanket other parts of the city, Wynwood has managed to maintain a lower profile among visitors. “Wynwood is where the locals go,” Rey says. “We don’t go to South Beach; we go to Wynwood.” The neighborhood’s monthly Art Walk is certainly evidence of that. Held on the second Saturday of every month, the event draws thousands of locals who come to sip craft beers and enjoy a diverse and dynamic art scene.
But nothing compares to what happened between November 29, 2016, and December 4, 2016, when Art Basel, the largest contemporary art fair in North America, came to town and celebrated its 15th anniversary. The show has acted as a galvanizing moment in the calendar that other organizations now schedule their events to coincide with, including Wynwood’s unveiling of 13 fresh murals. This year’s theme, Fear Less, calls upon selected artists like David Choe and Faith47 to answer the “call to be fearless in a world that is often consumed by fear.” For some of the artists, Wynwood Walls will be the first time they’re presenting their work in the U.S., making this event perfect for those who like to stay ahead of the curve. In addition to the murals, boulders carved by Ken Hiratsuka, a pioneering Japanese street artist known for chiseling intricate patterns into New York City sidewalks in the 1980s, will also be displayed in the space.
Make a day of it
With a new slew of bars and cafes open for business, it’s worth blocking out a full afternoon for your visit to Wynwood. Start by picking up a fresh juice from jugofresh on site and stroll through the outdoor installation, then visit the Wynwood Walls Shop, where Citi cardholders enjoy a 20% discount from December through August 2017. Relax during dinner inside the lounge-y Wynwood Kitchen & Bar or grab a table on the patio with a view of the murals. Brightly colored chairs and walls covered with drawings provide a vibrant backdrop for the flavorful, Latin-inspired dishes. To really feel like an insider, walk to the nearby Coyo Taco and stroll straight through the kitchen to a hidden bar in the back with more than 50 brands of tequila and mezcal. Craft beer lovers will want to visit Boxelder, a taproom and bottle shop where local brews are on tap. If you like what you taste, both Miami-brewed beers as well as those from other breweries throughout Florida are for sale to take home.
Craving even more art? For musicians and car enthusiasts, Walt Grace Vintage is the spot. The art gallery features vintage guitars and cars as well as more traditional forms of art. For more art, check out the private collections that are open to the public, including the Rubell Family Collection and Margulies Collection at the Warehouse. To hear from Miami’s top tech startups, stop by The LAB Miami, a hub for educational talks and social networking.
My artwork has been over different vehicles like trucks, trains, motorbikes, and boats, but never before on a fleet of bicycles
Navigate Wynwood in style
One of the easiest and most efficient ways to get around this maze of hotspots is on two wheels. The Citi Bike® program is Miami’s sustainably-minded bike sharing and rental system, and hopping on one of these two-wheelers is like riding a piece of art – especially through February 2017, when Spanish street artist Okuda San Miguel’s designs will be featured on 300 bikes and 150 Citi Bike stations throughout Miami Beach and Wynwood. “My artwork has been over different vehicles like trucks, trains, motorbikes, and boats, but never before on a fleet of bicycles,” says the artist. “I love the idea of creating new contexts for people to access art.” Rent them by the hour or sign up for a monthly membership – either way, you’ll have access to bikes 24/7 – a good thing when traffic makes getting around Art Basel by car difficult.
Whether you visit during Art Basel to enjoy the special events or you make Wynwood your year-round stomping ground for great art and food, this Miami neighborhood has emerged as one of the city’s most diverse and distinct – a true must-see.
Citi will return as Wynwood Walls’ Presenting Sponsor this year, supporting the program’s public art and events. Wynwood Walls is located at 2520 NW 2nd Ave. Miami, FL 33127 and is open to the public free of charge.