In early 2003, a group of art dealers, artists and curators initiated the idea of Wynwood Art Walk based on the idea of a similar project, Art Night, that Mark Coetzee had started in his home town, Cape Town, South Africa. The founding Members at the first meeting in the Rocket Projects media room were Brook Dorsch of Dorsch Gallery, Weston Charles, Cooper and Elizabeth Withstandley of Locust Projects, Mark Coetzee of the Rubell Collection, Nick Cindric of Rocket Projects, Bernice Steinbaum of Bernice Steinbaum Gallery and Marina Kessler of Marina Kessler Gallery. It was a noble idea, to bring in art lovers and collectors alike, to the not so popular Wynwood area that was buzzing with artistic activity behind closed doors. The monthly event was to open the doors to the public, literally, as well as to opportunity.
During those earlier days, galleries served hand poured wine to “guests” to encourage browsing and talk among the art. It was one of those perfect Miami events, sharing the streets on warm breezy nights with other art lovers, though I remember being fearful that it’s lack of popularity would cause the gallery owners to toss in the towel and it would be over before it began. As it turns out, they did not, and it was fantastic for quite a long time.
Then it took a radical left turn. People arrived in droves for the free wine and small bites and social time. The streets filled up and it became less about the art. The food trucks lined the streets and it became a free for all. Since the proverbial left turn, Wynwood became ground zero for major changes and gentrification. Some good, some, well, left up to personal interpretation.
However, for the most part, Art Walk seems to have grown up in recent times. The food trucks now line up in perfect well lit rows between 23rd and 22nd street, and include comfortable seating and picnic areas. There is street entertainment and NW 2nd Avenue traffic flows a little better. With over 70 galleries, five museums, seven art complexes, twelve art studios and countless art fairs, it seems art is once again, the center focus.
In the not so long ago past of Wynwood, one could just about park anywhere, as long as it wasn’t blocking a driveway or fire hydrant. Those days are over. This past weekend, walking back to my car in a legit spot I got by going very, very early, I saw at least 30 ticketed cars along a fence where I usually parked. Meanwhile, there are parking barkers intent on steering you to their pay lots. Leave it up to Miami Parking Authority to ruin a good thing. – All photos by Vala Kodish.