Adventures of a Sage—Photography as a Lens for Self-Discovery
Shoot Date: 12/6/2019
Miami’s Wynwood Neighborhood
The Wynwood area of Miami, shown in the map below, is located south of the Design District (south of I-195), east of I-95, and north of downtown Miami. As recently as the early 2000s, Wynwood was a neglected, run down, gang-ridden, you-probably-don’t-want-to-go-there kind-of neighborhood.
Miami’s Wynwood District
How Legendary Tony Goldman Created the Wynwood Walls
Several of the Wynwood websites state that the “legendary,” “visionary,” and “community revitalizer,” Tony Goldman of GoldmanProperties” created the Wynwood Walls art project in 2009.
While I’m sure that Mr. Goldman (may he rest in peace) was an important mover and shaker in the annals (careful how you spell that) of Wynwood’s history—and while I grant that his reputation may have even been far-seeing, fabled, and even mythical—I had previously not heard of the Goldman visionary legend until I started my research for this article.
Being a Sage, myself, and always looking for ways to amplify my own prominence and notoriety, I was curious as to how Mr. Goldman attained such famed legendary status—a status to which I also aspire. After all, immortal, Sage-like legendary reputations must be carefully groomed, maintained, and preserved.
After many hours of careful, dedicated research, I have concluded that Mr. Goldman’s “legendary” reputation traces back in history to the use of the words “legendary” and “visionary” in his website. Had I known that becoming a legend was this easy, I would have certainly used these words more liberally in all of my Sage Adventures.
How the Wynwood Walls Art Project Changed Wynwood
Wynwood’s famed Walls (yes, they are well-known throughout the U.S. and international art communities) provide canvases in the form of windowless warehouses for artists from all over the world to create murals which can be seen on virtually every square inch of wall in and around Wynwood.
Here is the definition of the walls from the Wynwood Walls website:
“Wynwood Walls was conceived by the renowned community revitalizer and placemaker, the late Tony Goldman in 2009. He was looking for something big to transform the warehouse district of Wynwood, and he arrived at a simple idea: ‘Wynwood’s large stock of warehouse buildings, all with no windows, would be my giant canvases to bring to them the greatest street art ever seen in one place.’ “
Note: To my knowledge, “placemaker” is not a word. Did they mean “peacemaker”? Doubt it. How about “pacemaker”? Certainly not. I will thus need to consider adding “placemaker” to my legendary vocabulary.
An Artist Paints His New Vision on a Wall in Wynwood
I have some photographic examples of several Wynwood Walls below. But first …
A Primer on Contemporary Art—Part 1
Wynwood Wall artists tend to be more prolific leading up to Miami Art Week in December—which includes over 20-international art fairs and 1,200 galleries showcasing thousands of artists. The most well-known Miami Art Week event being Art Basel Miami, during which hundreds of millions of dollars of contemporary art is sold. (Note that “hundreds of millions” is not a typo.)
For a slight tangent here about Art Basel Miami’s contemporary art fair, let’s look to the renowned (I had to look it up) IESA school of arts & culture in Paris, an acclaimed institution that defines “contemporary art” as “artwork produced in the late 20th and early 21st centuries using a wide array of media that make the viewer question what it is that defines art.”
Please don’t ask why a definition of contemporary art will make you question what the definition of contemporary art is. You’re being so, so, so … plebeian!
To understand how these provocatively legendary contemporary artists can make viewers question what defines art, one needs only to consider Art Basel Miami 2019, where an Italian artist (Maurizio Cattelan) taped an overly ripe banana to a wall with duct tape. He titled his work Comedian. The first two editions of this critically important work sold for $120,000 each; and the final edition sold for $150,000.
(Personally, I would have titled this work Gullible Art Buyer.)
The Comedian—An Art Installation at
Art Basel Miami, 2019
Contemporary Art Q&A
Q: “Are you kidding? Why would anyone in their right mind buy an overly ripe banana for $150,000?”
A: Honestly, your ignorance of contemporary art strains my patience.
Q: “Hold on here. How can three people own one banana?”
A: OMG! Do I need to explain everything? Stop being such a plebe. These sophisticated art patrons didn’t buy a banana! Bananas rot! Don’t be stupid! They each bought a certificate of the artwork, giving them rights to the artist’s idea.
Q: What if one of these sophisticated art patrons wanted to actually display the banana in his or her home or office?
A: This is the last question I intend to answer. Because, really, I don’t have time for this. According to the artist, when the banana goes bad, the owner is authorized to replace it—preferably with another bad banana.
A Primer on Contemporary Art—Part 2
But wait, there’s more. On Saturday, December 14th, world renowned (I had to look him up) performance artist, David Datuna, walked up to Maurizio’s banana installation (keep in mind, it had already been sold), audaciously untapped it from the wall, and took a bite. Rumors circulated that David titled his performance, “Hungry Artist.”
Do you think “Di-gest”? (Ha! That’s a critically important “performance” play on words that I’m selling for $150,000.) No, I do not jest. Read all about it in Vogue here. And on Fox Business.
The Sage’s Wynwood Walls Shoot
In 2019, while attending some of the Art Miami festivals, I spent a morning photographing many of Wynwood’s artistic Walls. A sample follows below. Enjoy, because all of these have been painted over by now. Some of these are missing titles, so I have made suggestions …
Motorcycle Wreck in Armageddon
The Lone Kimono
Camouflaged Street Lamp
Charge My Heart
Here’s an interesting article about the artists of Wynwood’s street art (this link requires a long time to load). And another about how Wynwood Walls have shaped Miami’s art scene.
You know it’s a Destination when Tripadvisor ranks Wynwood Walls as #6 out of 363 things to do in Miami, and sells tickets on their website. You don’t need a ticket! Just walk Wynwood’s streets for several hours and you’ll be amazed by the number of murals.|
Tips for Driving in Miami
Should you decide to see the Wynwood Walls in person, I have one primary safety tip for driving in and around Miami: Do not honk your horn! This is a travel tip well-known among Miami locals. Why? Because there is high probability that one of Miami’s finer, highly armed, gold-chained residents might construe your honk as a sign of aggression—or worse: intended as a personal insult. Therefore, do not honk in Miami, unless you want to wake up dead.
Thanks for accompanying me on this legendary shoot of Miami’s Wynwood Walls. As a loyal Adventures fan, please consider:
- Using the icons below to share Adventures of a Sage with anyone who would like to participate in self-discovery through the lens of photography.
- Posting a comment to share with everyone.
- What do you think about Wynwood Walls?
- Any interesting street art that you can share from your city (or anywhere else)?
Karl, my dear (I can address him as such, for it’s The Bekster), thank you for another sagacious blog! Your subject being murals – albeit temporary, yet extraordinary street murals – I must weigh in here with a suggestion for your readership. Once upon a time, when I lived in San Diego, a gal pal shifted from technology to art and has become a renowned muralist whose art is found in commercial and retail spaces, for cities, schools, and residences. I invite all who take note of my comment, to have a look at her work: http://www.morganmurals.com.
Once again some great photography and I look forward to seeing more in the next one. This post has also inspired me to write again on my own blog and hope to be half as good one day.