I Vaguely remember Wynwood as a child, my older brother took my twin brother and I to Roberto Clemente Park once. We both played in a little league baseball team at the time; he wanted to help us practice. Now I live two blocks away from this park and it reminds me everyday of those times. During the 80’s my parents would pass Wynwood while visiting the Design District. This was of course “Pre-Craig Robins and Dacra” era, as they would re-establish a fading Design District in the years to come. Today the Design District is a luxurios destination for those who can afford it. Interesting enough, much of Wynwood’s current situation is directly attributted to the rise of the Design District. As destiney would have it, rapidly developing urbanized areas such as the “Design District” can quickly morph an entire City. As corporate America designer giants “Moved-In”, the“Artist or Galleries alike” eventually “Moved-Out”. Unfortunately, the Artist “Builds a solid Foundation”, intruducing the Arts, Hipness, Culture and Fashion, but sooner or later will be forced to find more affordable pastures. As Design District’s leased spaces and “Artist Studio” rentals quickly increased, so did the art community at Wynwood Florida.
I myself personally experienced the effects of escalating rent as shared with “Diaspora Vibe Gallery Artist(s) and Director Rosie Gordan Wallace”, while at the Madonna Building (named by locals, because of the Metal-Sculptural-Cones mounted onto the roof edges). Design District inflation forced all of us to find new salvation and/or explore other art strategies elswhere. Still living in Miramar Florida at the time, but wanting to move into the surging Wynwood, I began too meet with realtors in the Wynwood area. An opputunty would arise in the form of my twin brother whom would leave to New York (passionately missed) and offer his home as a rental takeover. I quickly agreed, invisioning a future studio space and living arrangements. I would launch “Art @138” as a home base for Basel which included Art Exhibition(s), Private Events. making our home-studio-space a creative hub. Secondly, it was important for me that I establish a demographic realtionship with my immediate community. These where the people that I would be sharing my life with. My neighbors, the neighborhood café’ or neighborhood supermarkets etc. It would be both a new start as an artist and a new start for my family. This neighborhood which I vaguely remembered as a child, would now become the center of my artistic universe.
Wynwood is an intriguing and rich cultural haven. It harvests a unique cluster of race(s) and creed(s). From the Wynwood Bearded Hipster walking his “Frenchy” Bulldog, to the Puerto Rican home owners of the 70’s & 80’s; Graffiti Artist(s), Muralist or Hip Hop fans walking next to a lesbian couple. The LGBT community also plays an essensial role in Wynwood’s persona.
In Wynwood, a young family heading to Midtown’s Target can be walking along side any of these colorful individuals without a care in the world. Children born and raised in Wynwood seem to be more culturally inclined by nature? If you are raised amongts different races/creeds; creative individuals, some homeless even, will your child be more humble? This notion can be interpreted universally of course. During the last five years, a division between the Design District and Wynwood is more prominant. The Design District is a wealthy destination for those who wish to puchase a purse worth $2,000 made from real Ostriches (Hermés/Prada). If you wish to see local art or experience (street food) culture, tourists are then advised to explore Wynwood by our municipality cultural affairs. Wynwood residents or socialites can schedule a Lyft for $4-+ in and arrive at the Design District in minutes. Minutes are dependent on how far you live or are situated from 36tth street. Facinating to me is how these two areas have traded places. At the beginning, it was the Design District who hosted the Basel Block Parties (closure of N. Miami Ave) Galleries, venues…etc. I witnessed it, from the 130 Building during our first Basel exhibition in its inaugural year. Meanwhile, I’ve continued to keep a vigilant-eye on my surroundings. Naturally the documentation of my vicinity has always been part of my repertoire.
I’m inspired by both the new and pre-existing cultures living and/or working together in this vibrant macrocosm. Recently, the construction worker has also become an iconic and intricate figure during the economic growth, especially in “Wynwood’s Midtown” region. He or she has merged into Wynwood’s backdrop along with the Artist, Bearded Hipster, Haitian Women, Homeless Man or Starbuck’s Coffee addict. The question remains as we continue to see construction workers living amongst us, does this equate towards another Design District-like shift? Many had already begun to move over and into the “Little Haiti District” during the past five years. Rent in the Little Haiti (A.K.A. The “Lemon City”) is still much more affordable. (Dorche Gallery). Thus, maybe this shift has already begun? The City of Miami and the Dept. of Cultural Affairs must simply remember to stick to their tourist-guide promotions, defining Wynwood as a “Art District”! Essentially, In order to keep the Art Community (Artist) alive in Wynwood, they must help keep a “Live and Work” experience for the Artist thriving. Many tourist have already defined Wynwood as the Miami Party Destination, instead of the Art province it should always be. Still, Art Basel related events and other Art Fairs continue (Spectrum/Mana-Convention Center) to utilize Wynwood as the Miami Art/Basel destination of choice. The National “Young Arts” Foundation also is permanently located on 20th Street and Biscayne Blvd. For these reasons, many still prefer Wynwood over Miami Beach during Art Basel for it’s urban local flare. And so, here is the Wynwood we know today, still Miami’s Art Metropolis when it matters most. Art lovers/Art patrons will still flock too Wynwood first and then branch-out. My work will continue to feed-off Wynwood’s energy, documentation and use of existing Wynwood found objects (unconventional or not).
I’ll corroborate between each of these unique areas and its locals, creating a dialog within its social scope. Whether its Mix-Media, Installation(s), Murals, Sculpture, Drawings and/or Digital Works, I hope to continue elaborating on Wynwood’s ongoing breeds and creeds…..