Inside Miami's Wynwood District
Miami’s former industrial and warehouse district of Wynwood has been making a cultural imprint on the wider urban landscape and beyond over the past decade.
Distinct in style and ambiance from its South Beach and downtown neighborhoods, the main ingredient fueling the Wynwood district’s transformation in this period has been the emergence of a thriving street art scene in what is known as the Wynwood Art District. The development of that muralist presence has in turn brought along a diverse presence of independent retailers and culinary landmarks.
Wynwood today is easily accessible from downtown, the beach or even further afield around the city thanks to its proximity to major arteries and highways. The district has grown to the point where it now contains the highest concentration of street art in the U.S. In addition to that definitive street art presence, the area is also home to more than 80 art galleries, studios, and museums. Sustaining that development and introducing new fans to this Wynwood district are annual festivals, weekly art walks and area events throughout the year that promotes new creative talent.
Displaying art, imaginatively
Imagination and generosity from sources in the business and commercial sectors were primary factors in providing the dynamic towards the current Wynwood arts, fashion and leisure presence. At the center of Wynwood’s reinvention as an independent art-centric district has been the Wynwood Business Improvement District (BID) – an association of forward-looking business leaders encouraging the different entrepreneurial and arts interests locally. One such early pioneer and a BID board member nowadays is Don Lombardi, who recalls: “I started hosting artists in whatever spaces I had vacant, and started an event called “Roving Friday” where I would sponsor a fashion show or a band and DJ. We had about 150 people at the first one, and by the third one we had 700 people.”
Street exterior and wall art is certainly the outward defining feature of Wynwood’s creative mix these days, with muralists attracted from around the globe to try their artistic talent on building walls and surfaces. Depending on the structure, that expression can be long-lasting or even brief, but fortunately, the foresight of the area’s most notable business figure and proponent, the late Tony Goldman, has allowed for murals to find a permanent space in the Wynwood Walls. Established by Goldman in 2009, the Walls at NW 2nd Avenue (now Tony Goldman Way) features large-scale murals by globally acclaimed street artists and reinvents itself annually with a program that highlights artists who push the boundaries of imagination and creativity.
At the same time, art lovers are also drawn here by the striking component of interior display – museums and collections that house the work of modern art from across the continent and world. Essential to consider for any such itinerary locally are MOCA at Goldman Warehouse; The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse; the Rubell Family Collection; Bakehouse Art Complex and CIFO Art Space. Each is quite different in style, layout, function and especially content.
Relax, refresh and revive
Wynwood exploration requires more than one visit to soak in all its elements. Making that exploration a well-organized affair is the monthly curated Wynwood Art Walk, but for those who come at other times, the area's thriving dining and bar presence allows for refreshing breaks. While early culinary favorites hereabouts remain strong favorites – Joey’s Cafe and Wynwood Kitchen & Bar – new dining spots continue to open up all the time. Look out for such new artisanal eateries as Zak the Baker, Panther Coffee, Coyo Taco, Fireman Derek’s Pies, and The Salty Donut, all of which have developed a cult following. Other additions contributing to Wynwood’s foodie status include James Beard award nominated, Kyu from Michael Lewis (of Zuma fame) and Steven Haigh, GK Bistronomie and Alter. Federal Donuts and Dizengoff, both of Philadelphia, have also opened their first Florida locations in Wynwood. Even while you recharge and imbibe, you can also enjoy these restaurateurs' sense of design that is one more ingredient within the memorable experience of Wynwood today.
More Wynwood resources and local events
- Art Wynwood – Annual exposition of district artists and their work.
- Wynwood Art Walk – happens on the second Saturday of every month from 6-10 PM.
- The Wynwood Yard – a monthly live showcase of emerging artists and entrepreneurs.
- MAG (Miami Art Guide) – a free print and online guide with a section on current and upcoming Wynwood area events and exhibits.
- Wynwood Arts District – the essential portal for events, background and the key points of interest across the Wynwood Arts District today.
_____Words: Hal Peat
Photos: According to captions and courtesy of respective venues