Arts & Entertainment

Open-air urban art museum in Miami continues to grow

By Ana Mengotti

Miami, Nov 22 (EFE).- The Wynwood Walls open-air urban art museum, which devotes more than 7,400 square meters (79,600 square feet) of space to murals, on Monday is incorporating new works by 13 US, Mexican, Cuban, Portuguese and French artists as a preview to Miami Art Week.

Due to the pandemic, Miami did not hold its traditional Art Week in 2020, a fair scheduled for the first few days of December, the flagship event of which is the Art Basel fair in Miami Beach

Thus, there are “many people” who want to see the works from “the world’s best street artists” assembled at a single venue, Jessica Goldman Srebnick, the Wynwood Walls curator and executive director of Goldman Global Arts, told EFE.

This year, the 13 artists to be featured at the event will create 10 murals and three sculptures on the bare white walls provided to them at Wynwood Walls.

Some of them started preparing their works on Monday amid public scrutiny, since this museum features not only completed art but also art in the process of being created.

Goldman Srebnick emphasized that, since the pandemic has altered virtually everyone’s life to some degree, changed customs and caused the entire world to reflect, it was decided that the theme of the 2021 exposition would be artists as “agents of change.”

Japan’s AIKO, Portugal’s Diogo “Addfuel” Machado and Bordalo II, Americans David Flores, Greg Mike, Scott Froschauer, Joe Iurato, KAI and Kayla Mahaffey, France’s Mantra, Cuban-American Ernesto Maranje, Mexico’s Farid Rueda and Miami’s Quake were the artists selected for the event.

Their works will be displayed in the big, white-walled, open-air gallery, where in the past other artists have created their own works.

Goldman Srebnick said that the museum regularly changes its artistic offerings – painting over past works to make room for new ones on the walls – but guarantees that each work will remain on display for at least three years.

No work is forgotten, since it remains within the memory of the public and the organization, but it is also featured in videos, photos, blogs and on the Wynwood Walls social network accounts.

It is “very sad” to have to cover up prior works with white paint after a certain time, she said, but it’s necessary to be able to show how urban art evolves.

In front of a white wall, where on Tuesday Ernesto Maranje, born to Cuban parents in the Miami metro area community of Hialeah, will begin to prepare his work, the artist told EFE in Spanish that he felt very fortunate to be among the group of artists with so much “talent.”

This will not be his first work to go on display at Wynwood Walls and he said it will focus, just like his prior work, on an issue that concerns him: the environment, nature and, above all, animals.

A Florida panther, a local endangered species, will dominate his mural, but it is to the Burman pythons that have “left their mark” on South Florida to which he is devoted.

The pythons are an invasive and predatory species that is decimating the local fauna in the Everglades, the huge wetland area in southern Florida.

In Maranje’s judgment, works of urban art don’t need to “have an (explicit) message.” He prefers, he said, for people to draw their own conclusions from and about them.

Kayla Mahaffey, an African-American from Chicago, has already finished her mural and signed her name to it on a wall near where Maranje will work.

Nature is also very present in her work filled with color and in which the light-filled faces of two African-American children dominate the scene along with flowers, butterflies and other insects.

In remarks to EFE, Mahaffey said that she doesn’t know why women are always in the minority at urban art exhibitions. It could be the marketing or that they aspire to stand out in traditional and “high-level” art, she said.

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