The Wynwood Walls at Art Basel Miami Beach

Goodlifer: The Wynwood Walls at Art Basel Miami Beach

Nothing has the ability to move people quite like public art. Whether you love it or hate it, a public art piece has the ability to transform an entire neighborhood, creating pride and character. In a time when very few people have the ability to own art or even visit museums, public art projects serve an important purpose — they provide hope, inspiration, fascination, controversy and visual and intellectual stimulation.

Grafitti legend Futura.

Grafitti legend Futura.

The Wynwood Walls project builds on the street art tradition that is already deeply rooted in the Wynwood neighborhood, where artists can still afford studio space and non-traditional galleries are changing the face of Miami’s art scene. In addition to the twelve murals completed for Art Basel Miami Beach, the intention is to commission another fifteen or more wall murals over the next two years, enlisting the best artists in the field.

Mural by the Greek artist Stelios Faitakis.

Mural by the Greek artist Stelios Faitakis.

Barry McGee. Photo by artypantz, Creative Commons.

Barry McGee. Photo by artypantz, Creative Commons.

Fifteen influential artists from Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States were invited by art gallery Deitch Projects and property owner Goldman Properties to create outdoor murals on warehouse walls in Miami’s Wynwood Art District, turning the area between 2nd and 5th Avenues and NW 22nd and 28th Streets into an international street art museum. The murals are accompanied by an indoor space at 2550 NW 2nd Avenue where paintings by several of the artists as well as photographs by Martha Cooper, documenting the process, are exhibited.


Shepard Fairey's non-violent protest-themed wall.

Shepard Fairey’s non-violent protest-themed wall.

This first phase of The Wynwood Walls features works by Aiko (Japan), Os Gemeos and Nunca (Brazil), Stelios Faitakis (Greece), and Jim Drain/Ara Peterson, Shepard Fairey, Futura, Barry McGee, Clare Rojas, Kenny Scharf and the team of Swoon, David Ellis and Ben Wolf (the U.S.). Futura is among the most influential street artists of all time, and one of the originators of Wild Style in the early 1980s. Kenny Scharf’s work opened a new direction in art in the early 1980s and continues to influence a younger generation.

Kenny Sharf's wall.

Kenny Sharf’s wall.

Japanese artist Aiko.

Japanese artist Aiko.

Os Gemeos introduced a new approach to street art in Brazil in the 1990s and has influenced artists around the world. The Os Gemeos twins brough several artist friends from Brazil including Nina and Finok to collaborate on their mural, which covers a main street-facing building at the corner of NW 2nd Avenue and NW 26th Street. Barry McGee, from San Francisco, whose work also covers an entire building (at 2390 NW 2nd Avenue) introduced a new artistic vocabulary mixing figuration and geometry that has also been widely influential. Shepard Fairey, best known for his (in)famous Hope poster created in support of the Obama campaign, is arguably the most widely know street artist today. Swoon, whose life-size wheatpaste prints and paper cutouts of figures have given her a spot among the best known American street artists of this generation.

Claire Rojas' wall.

Claire Rojas’ wall.

Detail of Os Gemeos' mural, shown in top photo.

Detail of Os Gemeos’ mural, shown in top photo.

Jim Drain/Ara Peterson's mural is based on a drawing made by Drain at nine years old.

Jim Drain/Ara Peterson’s mural is based on a drawing made by Drain at nine years old.

Jim Drain and Ara Peterson, both formerly members of the influential Providence collective Forcefield, continue to develop new approaches to artistic media. Jim Drain is now living in Miami and has become central figure in the local art community. Clare Rojas is also a musician performing as Peggy Honeywell and brings a folk art sensibility to both her art and music. Aiko’s work encompasses the imagery of Japanese Pop.

Photographs by Martha Copper, documenting the paiting of the murals.

Photographs by Martha Copper, documenting the paiting of the murals.


If you can’t make it to Miami to see the Wynwood Walls, walk around your city, look around and see how the walls are being used. Maybe you will discover some great street art, or maybe there is opportunity (and space) to initiate a mural project? I worked on painting a mural at a school in the South Bronx recently. The neighborhood kids were cheering us on, dancing, watching — clearly happy to have something besides a blank wall to look at. Even if you are not an artist, you can volunteer to help paint murals. Go to and put “mural” in the search field to see what public art is in the works where you live.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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