Medusa’s Ways of Seeing: Miami VIBE and Wynwood Walls

Miami VIBE: all bodies

How Miami Lifted Covid-19 Restrictions and Then Came the Crackdown - The New York TimesI loved the Miami vibe;

people of all shapes, ethnicities, bodily expressions wearing

barely clad garb

proudly

through beaches and streets.

Sure, there were the fancy uppity folks in their bright green and purple sports cars and suavely styled folks amongst the people…

but the overall aura was comfort, chill and acceptability; people were happy, places were welcome and put together–even in the extreme heat! I firmly believe living near water (especially ocean water!) creates a

lady in pool

positivity – and the diversity (and plethora of public art) and chill feeling in Miami just made it super rad.

(<–me in fancy Miami pool); I felt guilty during these times taking the respite, and I recognize my privilege being able to vacation…

sometimes,

its needed.

Speaking of the public art – really recommend visiting Wynwood Walls Urban Graffiti Museum in Miami. Though, now, it isn’t technically “public” as there is a ticket fee ($12) – I’m honestly not totally against this because it keeps the integrity of the art and intimacy of the art experience (know another way? feel free to comment! I don’t know the story of when it went from public to ticketed)…

below: Wall by Tatiana Suarez, Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Walls // Miami // 2016It’s a few blocks of enclosed wall murals, contemporary galleries and humungous crazy sculptures as developed by Tony Goldman, a late land developer and arts patron, launched in 2009 at Art Basel (international arts fair hosted across the world including Miami).  These are the sweet things that can come from such tremendous art events! (So much love for collaborative art events that connect diverse folks!)

below: Wall mural by Mina Hamada, Wynwood Walls

“Graffiti” like most histories has a complex one of race and masculinity. (You have have noticed my two featured diverse women artists.)

Soapbox moment (scroll to end to see my praises of contemporary graffiti and being immersed in it at Wynwood)…:

[The context of graffiti culture has its roots with hip hop, grounded in Black and Puerto Rican street culture which emerged in New York City in the 1970s. One art historian’s theory sourced below: as black citizens were denied citizenship rights, their masculinity was declared inferior and inconsistent with the dominating white culture, denying them manhood rights, the parallels of which appear in the graffiti scene. Thus:

Graffiti writing is not just a reclamation of space for those who use and inhabit it, it is also a rewriting and renegotiation of that space.”

Kara Jane Lombard

As the scene has evolved, so it has become more varied ethnically, racially and culturally, increasingly European and middle class, but many still drawn from a similar “inferior” masculinity, whether it be class,Banksy Biography & Artwork | Artists | Street Art Bio economical or racially-based. High profile examples include Banksy {right: Girl with Balloon, 1970s, England}, whose childhood is (intentionally and tellingly) unknown, who started out with “underground street artists” in Bristol, England, tagging trains and learning to paint faster to dodge security. He is now established and well-known for his controversial art challenging social and political issues with satire, also credited for moving “graffiti art” into the “fine arts”.]

Graffiti culture embodies the colonizer’s ideals of a masculinity that is dangerous, aggressive and takes risks, while giving men a medium with which to tell their stories, and allowing them to express their emotions and form deep and lasting relationships with others based on trust, respect and a sense of community.” 

-Kara Jane Lombard

Tagging without being invited–is complex–I mean, trains, bridges, other public spaces, ok–but small businesses or otherwise–I don’t know. So complex!

The complexity lies with the contemporary graffiti artists’ desire to contribute to community, and [feminist] aspiration to break down boundaries.

Graffiti artists like Swoon and and Sara Erenthal  (above, her 2022 wheatpasted piece in Brooklyn) have disrupted a masculinist narrative; using street art  less as ego tagging, and moreso a platform for opening perspective and ways of seeing.

(of course, many male artists have done this too–Banksy as mentioned after he “made it”–but we all know this; but it’s not the foundation of the media)

It’s quite a feminist action when underrepresented artists gets such a HUGE space with which to share their creative perspective with, even (in some ways especially) on an invited space.

below: mural by AIKO, Wynwood Walls

Aiko

SOAPBOX DONE. Ish.

Though I don’t think over half…still a significant amount of women and definitely diverse artists represented at Wynwood Walls. Bodies depicted large, encompassing, just feeling a part of this space is inspiring, like walking on clouds (for me!).

Wynwood Walls Goes Big with Humankind – petertunneyart

A few galleries, to boot including the forever rando Peter Tunney Experience, with his huge and ironic collaged textual works, hung in a space with retro recovered objects like mismatched carpeting, jeweled lamps, mirrors, chandeliers, animal sculptures and more. (left)

Even the space smelled like a musty, smoky old hotel – so we know the stuff is authentic!

 

Overall: visit Wynwood Walls! Unique and inspiring experience, all around…

[Source noted above: Lombard, Kara-Jane. “Men Against the Wall: Graffiti(ed) Masculinities.” The Journal of Men’s Studies Vol. 21, No. 2 (Spring 2013): 178-190.]

Thanks for reading!

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Soon: my review of the new Elvis movie, and my post on the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, MD!

~Sally

1 thought on “Medusa’s Ways of Seeing: Miami VIBE and Wynwood Walls

  1. Trilety says:

    I just adore your blog and look forward to your posts! It’s as informative as it is fun!

    Reply

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