Wynwood neighborhood brings Miami’s art scene to life for visitors, residents

Posted Sept. 21, 2012


MIAMI, Fla.—The art-deco style, mint green and bright pink buildings of South Beach, the Cuban influence found in the cafecito stops and restaurants of Calle Ocho, the world renowned beaches of Miami Beach—all of these neighborhoods are what attract thousands of travelers to Miami every year.

Wynwood is known for its walls (Photo by Laurie Charles).

Although the character of Miami and its shoreline is what lure tourists to the Magic City, Miami is also known for one thing that most travelers, even locals tend to overlook: the art scene of Wynwood.

Located north of downtown, Wynwood was once considered by many to be Miami’s Red Light District where nothing but drugs, violence and empty textile warehouses surrounded the streets.

“It was a high crime area, but somehow it’s coming together. Warehouses are becoming museums,” said Paul George, a Miami historian and professor at Miami Dade College.

About 20 years later, Wynwood has transformed into the city’s epicenter of art galleries and street art. Within a 16-block stretch, travelers can explore more than 50 galleries and art studios, most within walking distance of each other.

“Wynwood is not there yet, but it has been miraculous to see a neighborhood that was once forlorn [emerge],” George said. “Art has immensely changed it. It’s no longer a no man’s land.”

Most of the galleries in the area showcase a compilation of contemporary art, pop-surrealism, mixed media pieces that combine a variety of textures including newspapers, wood, and graphics, and sculptures made from electrical wire and screws.

The pioneer behind the transformation of Wynwood is Tony Goldman, the same person who revamped South Beach and SoHo in New York. Goldman is known for restoring abandoned historic neighborhoods into a welcoming place for locals and tourists.

He recently died Sept. 12 at 68 due to heart failure at a New York hospital.

“Visionaries like Tony Goldman said we can improve a neighborhood by bringing a little culture and life [to it],” said Gregg Shienbaum, owner of Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art. “So he painted the walls.”

The walls Shienbaum is talking about are the Wynwood Walls and Doors, Wynwood’s permanent exhibit located on the back patio of Wynwood Kitchen & Bar.

Shepard Fairey's mural greets art lovers as they enter The Wynwood Walls (Photo by Laurie Charles)

Shepard Fairey’s mural greets art lovers as they enter The Wynwood Walls (Photo by Laurie Charles).

Once plain façades of warehouses are now colorful murals created by renowned artists like Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the Obama “Hope” poster.

Upon entering the Wynwood Walls, red and black images that portray the face of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition politician, along with a collage of “obey propaganda” and “democracy” posters scatter the east wall that houses The P.T. Experiment.

“People [the community] take pride in the walls and want to keep it nice,” Shienbaum said.

Sandwiched somewhere between a wall of graffiti, Gallery Diet and Waltman Ortega Fine Art, Shienbaum is one of the newest gallery owners on the block. He moved his gallery from Fort Lauderdale to Wynwood in March.

“Wynwood is a very now, hip, edgy spot. Sometimes art pushes boundaries and in Wynwood, they like to push boundaries,” Shienbaum said.

Unlike the other galleries in Wynwood, Shienbaum’s gallery houses pieces from famous artists like Andy Warhol and Shepard Fairey alongside smaller, local artists.

One of the pieces currently on exhibit at Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art gallery (Photo by Laurie Charles)

One of the pieces currently on exhibit at Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art gallery (Photo by Laurie Charles).

Located about one block north from Shienbaum’s gallery, past a pastel colored cartoon-like mural painted on the sidewalk, Black Square Gallery uses a different approach.

“From the beginning, we focused on European art,” said Anna Milashevych, director of Black Square Gallery.

Milashevych’s gallery has been in Wynwood for two years and showcases the work of artists from Spain, Ukraine, Japan and Latin America, to name a few.

“In every city, there is an area for galleries. If you want to be successful [in the industry], you have to go where there are contemporary galleries,” Milashevych said.

Although there are so many galleries in the area, Milashevych said they function as a community.

“There is no competition [amongst the galleries],” Milashevych said. “People [buyers] either like your work or they don’t.”

Inside the gates of the Wynwood Walls stands The P.T. Experiment. The gallery is owned by the artist himself, Peter Tunney.  (Photo by Laurie Charles)

Inside the gates of the Wynwood Walls stands The P.T. Experiment. The gallery is owned by the artist himself, Peter Tunney (Photo by Laurie Charles).

In addition to the art found within the Wynwood Walls and its surrounding galleries, a five-minute drive takes travelers to the Bakehouse Art Complex.

“Bakehouse was the first art facility in Wynwood,” Arlys Raymond, executive director of Bakehouse said.

It serves as a fellowship program that provides nearly 70 galleries and art facilities including a print room, kiln, and woodworking and wielding area for artists to work in.

To be accepted into Bakehouse, artists must submit an application and undergo a jury selection process.

“We serve as a launching pad for emerging and mid-career artists,” Raymond said. “We emphasize the importance of pushing yourself as an artist.”

Housed in what was once an old bakery from the 1920s, Bakehouse opened its doors in 1987. Inside, passers-by get lost in the maze of studios; glass doors allow observers to take a peek into artistic masterpieces in the making and spot objects that inspire the artists from brushes to yarn to car bumpers to paint.

Standing right outside his studio, artist Alain Castoriano was adjusting a light fixture that was beaming onto one of his abstract geometric paintings with a ruler.

One of the many murals of the Wynwood Walls (Photo by Laurie Charles)

One of the many murals of the Wynwood Walls (Photo by Laurie Charles).

Originally from France, Castoriano came to Miami to continue a painting he was working on in France.

“I didn’t really know Wynwood,” Castoriano said. “[Now] I always bring friends to Wynwood from Europe. They don’t really know about it but are mesmerized when I show them the murals.”

The murals and artistic vibe were what Goldman envisioned when he renovated Wynwood.

“What people don’t realize that Tony [Goldman] realized is that people don’t even know they appreciate art. Now [by exposing them to art] you influence people to appreciate it and like it,” Sheinbaum said.


Wynwood Arts District
167 NW 25th St.
Miami, Fla., 33137

From Miami International Airport:

  • Take FL-112 East bound
  • Take I-195 East
  • Exit on Biscayne Boulevard / U.S. 1
  • Merge onto NW 36th St. and go straight
  • Turn left on NW 2nd Avenue
  • Galleries run from about NW 27th St. to NW 25th Street

From downtown:

  • Go north on Biscayne Boulevard.
  • Turn left on NW 36th Street
  • Turn left on NW 2nd Avenue
  • Galleries run from about NW 27th Street to NW 25th Street


Free street parking is available throughout NW 2nd Avenue and its surrounding streets.

Featured Galleries

Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art
2239 NW 2nd Ave.
Miami, Fla., 33127
Mondays – Saturdays 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Black Square Gallery
2248 NW 1st Place
Miami, Fla., 33127
Tuesdays – Saturdays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Bakehouse Art Complex
561 NW 32nd St.
Miami, Fla., 33127
Open daily 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Gallery Diet
174 NW 23rd St.
Miami, Fla., 33127
Call gallery for hours

The P.T. Experiment
220 NW 26th St.
Miami, Fla., 33127
(Located inside Wynwood Walls)
Call gallery for hours

Waltman Ortega Fine Art
2238 NW 1st Place
Miami, Fla., 33127
Tuesdays – Saturdays 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For a list and map of all the galleries in the area, visit http://www.wynwoodmiami.com.

Food, Drinks and Bars

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
2550 NW 2nd Ave.
Miami, Fla., 33127
Lunch: Mondays – Saturdays 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Dinner: Mondays – Thursday 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Fridays – Saturdays 5:30 p.m. – 12 a.m. (Bar stays open until 1 a.m.)

2506 NW 2nd Ave.
Miami, Fla., 33127
Reservations recommended
Lunch: Mondays – Fridays 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Dinner: Mondays – Thursdays 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Fridays 6 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Saturdays 12 p.m. – 12 a.m.

Panther Coffee
2390 NW 2nd Ave.
Miami, Fla., 33127
Mondays – Saturdays 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sundays 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Wood Tavern
2531 NW 2nd Ave.
Miami, Fla., 33127
Wednesdays – Saturdays 5 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Sunday 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.

For a list and map of all the restaurants and bars in the area, visit http://www.wynwoodmiami.com.


Second Saturday Art Walk
Free entrance to galleries, food trucks, entertainment
Second Saturday of every month
6 p.m. – 11 p.m.

There is no exact starting point for Art Walk, although many prefer to visit the Wynwood Walls first and work their way through NW 2nd Ave. between NW 27th St. and NW 22nd St.

Free street parking is available throughout NW 2nd Avenue and its surrounding streets, although after a certain time lots open for $10 parking. The earlier guests arrive, the more free spots will be available.

For more information on Art Walk, visit http://www.wynwoodartwalk.com

Walking Tours
Wynwood also offers one-hour guided walking tours of Wynwood during Art Walk for $10. Meeting points are emailed to participants one week prior to Art Walk.

To register, visit http://www.wynwoodartwalk.com/wynwood-art/wynwood-art-walk-tour.

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