Photos courtesy of Wynwood Maps
Many people who hear “Miami” think: beaches, bronzed beauties, nightclubs, and of course, Cuban sandwiches. But in recent years, Miami has also become a destination for art enthusiasts, with its annual Art Basel fair and a bourgeoning art district on the outskirts of Miami’s Little Haiti and Edgewater, where elaborate graffiti bubbles onto the blank walls of forgotten textile buildings.
Known as the Wynwood Arts District, the area’s empty walls quickly captured the attention of local and international street artists, and it is now home to over 70 art galleries, museums, art studios, and cafes. And with the growing cache of murals and installations, the neighborhood itself became a sort of living gallery, with people wanting to know the artists behind the masterpieces. Enter Wynwood Map, a site dedicated to creating a centralized archive of Wynwood’s street art.
“Plain and simple, Wynwood needed it,” says co-founder Chris Montano. “It was a gallery without a proper record-keeping process or gallery guide and it was finally time to do something about it.”
Along with his friend and fellow co-founder Robert de los Rios, they began the huge undertaking of photographing and mapping one of the largest street art communities in the world. With a camera in hand, they scout the area almost every day, checking to see if anything has popped up overnight or changed. The website is simple to navigate: each blue pin on the map corresponds to a work and provides a link to the artist’s name, which then takes you to the artist’s related works (and also alerts you as to whether the piece is current or has since been covered by other graff).
Montano and De los Rios believe the Wynwood Map is the perfect vehicle to bring those in the community together and open up the conversation between artists, locals, and visitors. With the growth in attendance at Art Basel and the debut of music/art/and technology festival III Points this October, the timing couldn’t be more perfect to showcase their database.
Montano adds, “It says a lot about the Wynwood community, and the street art movement in Miami in general, when international artists continue to see Wynwood as a vital destination year in and year out. Add that to the level of talent Miami hosts with its own local artists and you begin to realize that things here can only continue to get bigger.”
Just as the vibrant murals are seeping beyond the walls of Wynwood and onto the rest of the city, Wynwood Map has a goal to expand and show that Miami is an integral part of the global art scene and evolving just the same.
“Our ultimate goal is to make the name Wynwood synonymous with street art around the world,” says Montano. “ As much as we believe Wynwood is one of the greatest street canvases on earth, it’s equally important to recognize that this is happening in a myriad of other places and grow beyond South Florida.”
Still, no matter where in the world Wynwood Map spreads to, he maintains the heart of the project will always lie in the artists that are out in the neighborhood every day adding a breath of life and color to the streets, constantly inspiring.
“They’ve decided to give us something that only lives in their minds so, we took that to heart…it was time to show the world what they do everyday.”