Art In the District, On the Street
There are multiple places you can experience the pleasure of looking at art while escaping the Florida heat. But should you venture out, there's a bit of art outside on the exteriors of the Miami Design District that's worth a second look. The abundance of empty walls throughout the various sectors of the city has encouraged and inspired young artists to flex their creative muscles away from the enclosed gallery or institutional space. The Design District is no exception. World-renowned artists including Shepard Fairey, RETNA, ROA and El Mac have all made their marks on spaces the conventional gallery simply could not provide.
Los Angeles-based RETNA is internationally recognized for his unique fusion of ancient Egyptian, Arabic, Old English and Hebrew calligraphic lettering. These letters combine into a form of poetry, a cypher inspired by his Latin and Native American background that is primarily known only to him. He was commissioned to create a dazzling exterior for the Louis Vuitton boutique on NE 40th Street, the name of the famous maison elongated into stripes of deep fuschias, pinks and purples into shades of cerulean and IKB (International Klein) Blue.
The façade of the D-Squared Building facing towards North Miami Avenue and NE 40th Street is graced with an elaborate Shepard Fairey 'Mandala Ornament', crossed between a devotional mandala and a flower in bloom. His 'OBEY' monogram is prominently displayed below the image in red. On the opposite side of the street near the on-ramp to I-95 at 38th Street, RETNA makes another appearance in a stunning collaboration with another LA-export, Miles 'Mac' MacGregor (known as El Mac), in a mural called 'Wingspan.' A young woman is ringed with a golden halo of undulating script, with a royal blue background (also in script). Brought to Miami thanks to the efforts of local collective Primary Flight, El Mac and RETNA have produced other prominent murals specifically within the Wynwood Arts District and at the Margulies Collection.
English street artist Ben Aine (real name Ben Flynn) collaborated with Belgian artist ROA (his real name is unknown) on a folded open structure on the western side of North Miami Avenue and NE 41st Street. An uncanny representation of a living room is emblazoned with circus-like type reading (in capital letters) 'I'm Destructive.' ROA's strange, distinctive work can also be seen in Wynwood in the forms of severed and distorted animal figures seemingly rendered in ink.
Each of these artists have near-permanent fixtures in the street art landscape of Miami. But more importantly, they inspire new local artists to flock to the walls and take to the streets with an art form available to all and hidden from no one.
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