Business took me to Miami this week, landing in the Sunshine State just as the Blizzard of 2016 was retiring to the Northeast. The weather, jealous of that much-hyped darling of newscasters’ fancy, was chilly by Floridian standards, highs around 50℉, but clear blue, so I decided to skip the art deco tackiness of Miami Beach and explore Wynnwood, Miami’s art district.
During Art Basel, Wynnwood plays host to a rush of pop-up galleries, but on this bright Sunday, most of the action was clustered along a five or six block stretch of 2nd Avenue, packed tight with warehouse galleries, “concept boutiques” and minimalist organic juiceries (“Freshii”). On the sidewalks and in the streets, stylishly bundled tourists and locals, twenty-somethings and strollers, cashmere and collagen all mix in a cacophony of English, Spanish, and the growl of performance sports engines. Power lines sag low, third-world style, and there’s a crumbling, shabby glam to it all.
The gallery art, if I may be frank, is nothing special: stylistically it veers towards what I can only characterize as “Miami”, with hints of Don Johnson and airbrush. Still, with every wall a vibrant mural, it’s as fine a way to spend a Sunday afternoon as one can imagine (assuming, that is, that the beach is 50℉).
Should you start to think, though, that Wynnwood is a boho art heaven, with fat-walleted aficionados showering riches on Dade County’s finest craftsmen, a stroll a few blocks off the art district core should sober you up.
Over 50% of the population of Wynnwood lives below the poverty line, and it shows. Buildings alternate abandoned and barely habitable. Lines of cars idle in front of tenement buildings. Men at the corners sag in wait for those who prefer not to make the trip inside.