By: Jennifer Agress
Discover the story behind Miami's Wynwood Walls.
Beyond the glitz and glamour of the Magic City, Miami has the colorful and artsy Wynwood neighborhood. Wynwood has become a haven for aspiring painters, graffiti artists, creatives and young innovators alike. Just minutes from Downtown Miami, near Midtown and the Miami Design District, this thriving neighborhood centers around Wynwood Walls. A collection of giant walls from six buildings, Wynwood Walls has since become a blank canvas for famed artists from across the globe.
Back in the 1970s, Wynwood was a collection of aging warehouses. That was, until the early 2000’s, when entrepreneur, historic preservationist, developer, restaurateur, hotelier and a patron of the arts, Tony Goldman, saw its potential.
The man behind the revival of SoHo and South Beach, Tony Goldman focused his company, Goldman Properties, on turning this failing neighborhood into a cultural oasis. Opening with Art Basel 2009, Wynwood Walls was Goldman’s vision for an open-air art gallery brought to life. That later blossomed into a greater neighborhood of art appreciation, and Wynwood’s monthly art walks confirmed the creator’s vision for a neighborhood that would become a canvas for urban street art.
Today, Wynwood is pedestrian friendly, and includes art everywhere you turn. While the Wynwood Walls themselves are carefully preserved, buildings surrounding the park are covered in murals that constantly change as artists come and go through Wynwood to find inspiration.
The muralists that earn a spot on Wynwood Walls have changed over the years, but a distinct handful have made a name for themselves in the process. One artist, Aiko, a Japanese artist living in Brooklyn, gathered her best friends from across the globe, and together, they used large stencils Aiko created by hand to complete her 2009. Recently, Aiko updated her work in 2013 as part of the “Women on the Walls Project.”
Another artist, Lady Pink, comes from Ecuador. Starting her graffiti art in 1979, she painted subway trains in NYC for years, and quickly became known as the only woman who could compete with men in graffiti subculture.
Maya Hayuk, on the other hand, is known for her paintings of outer space, Ukrainian crafts, airbrushed manicures and mandalas. Her abstract paintings include elements of her immediate surroundings, and in addition to Wynwood Walls, her iconic outdoor murals can be found across the globe, including on another Goldman Properties building: Houston Bowery Wall.
In addition to these popular artists, the Wynwood Walls houses works by Avak, Cryptik/DALeast, How&Nosm, Neuzz, Swoon, OS Gemoes and more.
What to See and Do
When you visit Wynwood Walls, you won’t just see amazing art, you’ll get a taste of Miami’s art world. Adorned in everything from life-sized murals of the Dalai Lama and graffiti quotes, to abstract paintings and out-of-this-world sculptures, Wynwood Walls is as unique as it is creative.
The most popular time to visit is on the second Saturday of every month, during Wynwood Art Walk. This monthly event turns the entire Wynwood Arts District into a late-night street party and arts festival, one with food trucks, live music, and art galleries staying open late and handing out drinks.
Of course, Wynwood is popular during Art Basel Miami Beach, an annual global art fair that attracts artists and art lovers from across the globe. Before Art Basel, Wynwood Walls artists come to update their art or create new pieces designed to shock and inspire, and any bare wall, surface or structure becomes a canvas for some of the most unexpected creations.
Nearby Wynwood Walls, there is plenty of shopping for visitors to take advantage of. The Wynwood Walls Shop, for one, opened in 2012 and contains a curated collection of gifts, books, prints, and more, all inspired and created by the artists of Wynwood Walls. Guides and books about the area are also available, which visitors can purchase to gain more insight into the history and development of Wynwood Walls.
Walk a little further, and you’ll find everything from deluxe thrift stores and unique boutiques, to jewelry stores, fashion houses and more. Some popular shops include MVM Miami, Nomad Tribe, Boho Hunter and Basico (read more about where to shop in Wynwood).
Where to Dine
Located at Wynwood Walls, you'll find Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, a Latin and Asian-inspired restaurant that’s as art-focused as its surrounding neighborhood. Come for Chef Miguel Aguilar’s creative menu of flavorful small plates like pork belly, Brussels sprouts and ceviche, and stay for the art. The fun ambiance of Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is marked by 20-foot, abstract paintings by German artist Christian Awe, a futuristic painting by Miami’s Santiago Rubino, and a colorful sculptural man, by David Benjamin Sherry, that reaches 11 feet high. Opening out into the Wynwood Walls courtyard, and the bar area is adorned in a mural of its own: a colorful collage by famed graffiti artist Shepard Fairey.
But this isn’t the only spot where you can grab a bite to eat in Wynwood, as amazing restaurants have popped up throughout the neighborhood, all in walking distance from Wynwood Walls, that have become synonymous with creative cuisine. Of these, some favorites are Wynwood Diner, GK Bistronomie, Alter, Coyo Taco and more. Joey’s Italian Café, which opened in 2008, became the first restaurant to open in the Wynwood Arts District. It is nationally-renowned for its delicious pizzas and pastas from the Veneto region, and it’s wine list makes it a popular spot for a casual drink.
Tours & General Visitor Information
Official walking tours of Wynwood Walls are offered daily through Miami’s Best Graffiti Guide, an organization dedicated to educating and inspiring the public about locally-produced graffiti art. Led by local artists Ryan the Wheelbarrow and Pedro AMOS, these tours shed light on the ever-changing murals in Wynwood Walls, as well as the area’s most legendary graffiti writers and iconic street artists. These private walking tours are available daily for ay-sized groups of all ages.
Wynwood Walls is open Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, from 10:30 a.m. to midnight; and on Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Entrance to the Wynwood Walls is free of charge, as are Wynwood Art Walks, which take place on the second Saturday of every month from 10:30 a.m. to midnight. The Wynwood Walls Shop is open Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and on Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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