Wynwood in the Dark

February 03, 2014

One of the reasons I’ve always wanted to move to a city is to enjoy the art scene and its constant change that only thrives in a bustling metropolis. Like many people who visit Miami only for its beaches and night life, I thought I would have no such luck in this new home of mine. 

Turns out, I had gotten it more wrong than I could have imagined.

It was a late Saturday night and my plans consisted of eating take out and binge watching FRIENDS for the millionth time. I was told there was something called an Art Walk at this trendy neighbourhood called Wynwood, only fifteen minutes away from where I lived, where every second Saturday of the month people show up to enjoy the latest exhibitions accompanied by free wine. I had heard of the name Wynwood many times and with it came great recommendations for anyone who had a bohemian soul. So with a not so sincere apology to my chicken tacos, I grabbed my denim jacket and headed out.

The short drive took me through the dark desolated part of the neighbourhood, small houses and storage buildings. For a moment I thought I took a wrong turn but the residue of spray paint on the sidewalks signalled I was close. With every passing street, the concrete walls of one story buildings became canvases for street artists. No building from here on out was untouched by a paint brush, the vibrant colors creating murals with urban motifs. 

One more block, and the avenue was swarmed with visitors and locals who walked around, selecting at a whim the next gallery they would visit. Others just enjoyed the murals, each one different to the next, as if it was an open air museum. The scene was like unadvertised big party that the high heeled wearing and expensive cocktail drinking crowd of South Beach wasn’t invited.

Completely taken by surprise by this burgeoning artistic neighbourhood only a few minutes from my apartment, all I could do was wander in amazement. The enormous murals were the front decoration of small restaurants, boutiques and pubs. Yet these murals were the fruit of the art bud that started everything eight years ago: The Wynwood Walls. Right next to Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, one of the first restaurants to be part of the development, Wynwood Walls are the collaboration of international street artists and the inspiration of many other locals who have left their signature on the nearby walls, slowly expanding the neighborhood.

The place was like nothing I had ever seen yet it felt strangely familiar in all its novelty. Like a home I had been searching without realizing or like the anchor necessary to finally feel I had moved from my country to Miami, and that was all right. It felt like the sparks of art inside my head had managed to escape and explode all around me into something welcoming. Just for me and I no longer had to live inside my head.

My introduction to Wynwood was intense and memorable but having met in the dark and for such short hours made everything feel surreal, like an magical circus passing by and come daylight, it would all be gone. 

I needed to come back, in the harsh light of day, without the buzzing crowd and the drinks, to see it without the allure of night and love it for what it really was.

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