Art flourishes in Miami

At about the same time, Miami Art Week, is held from December 2-8, and features Art Miami, a modern and contemporary art fair market.

A MURAL by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra shows four individuals representing four great religions in a painting titled ‘Coexist' (photo credit: BEN G. FRANK)
A MURAL by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra shows four individuals representing four great religions in a painting titled ‘Coexist'
(photo credit: BEN G. FRANK)
No doubt about it. Greater Miami is high on the list of art centers in the US. 
A prime example is the huge gathering of nearly 300 of America’s top galleries and art museums and 4,000 artists showing what they have in contemporary art, at an annual event, held in Miami Beach, December 5-8. Known as Art Basel Miami Beach, North America’s premier art fair, it is an international art show that has become a major draw for Miami Beach and Miami, with parties, satellite fairs and major events held in conjunction with the show.
At about the same time, Miami Art Week, is held from December 2-8, and features Art Miami, a modern and contemporary art fair market.
But dear reader, if you are not in South Florida in December/January, many galleries and outdoor urban art centers still await your pleasure all year-round.
Take for example, a wonderful Florida urban landscape that has become an international destination. I speak of one of Miami’s outstanding attractions: the Wynwood Walls, which are adorned with life-sized murals of famous personalities and abstract paintings alongside imposing sculptures.
This artistic area is just minutes from Downtown Miami, near Midtown and the Miami Design District, and thrives around Wynwood Walls area.
Wynwood, once a sleepy industrial neighborhood, has been transformed by graffiti artists into the largest open-air gallery in the world that welcomes over two million visitors annually.
Located at 2520 NW 2nd Avenue, this free, 85,000 sq. ft attraction has ignited one of the largest art movements in history. What makes this area fascinating for travel lovers to Miami, is that this is a site of international street art of geometric abstractions, or put another way, huge, colorful street murals by artists from around the globe.
One such artist which I admired on my visit was Eduardo Kobra, a Brazilian street artist. One mural of his which demanded my attention was a painting of four individuals representing four great religions, each easily identified via the subject’s expression, face, and dress. The title of this piece of spray paint and airbrush on canvas, moved me: Coexist.
Shepard Fairey is another artist to another artist asked to design monumental murals. One of his masterpieces includes civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Fairey was one of the first artists to be invited to design a mural for the courtyard.
As I strolled the grounds, I realized the international character of the site. That’s what makes people watching a fascinating pastime and travel enjoyment. I heard at least a half-dozen foreign languages spoken by visitors of all ages: French, Spanish, Italian, German, Hebrew, and Hindi.
OUTSIDE THE Wynwood open-air enclosures and in nearby streets, I found other art galleries, plenty of cafes and restaurants, particularly on NW 2nd Ave. 
The man who brought this outdoor art gallery to life was developer and patron of the arts, Tony Goldman. By the mid-2000s, Goldman began buying buildings in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, then another neglected area where he saw potential. He worked with art dealer Jeffrey Deitch to launch Wynwood Walls, the large permanent collection that it has become. Goldman was also responsible for the launching of the Bowery Mural, an outdoor exhibition space in New York City on a wall located on the corner of Houston Street and the Bowery.
Recently, it was announced that the Museum of Graffiti, located in the heart of Wynwood, at 299 NW 25th Street in Miami, is opening on December 5. Despite being a global arts destination, the Museum of Graffiti will be the Wynwood’s first museum. While the main exhibitions are indoors, the Museum has programmed several of the exterior walls along NW 25th Street, NW 3rd Avenue, and NW 26th Street in order to present the work of today’s top graffiti artists.
Wynwood Walls is open Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, from 10:30 a.m.-midnight; and on Sunday, from 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Entrance to the Wynwood Walls is free of charge, as are Wynwood Art Walks, which occur on the second Saturday of every month from 10:30 a.m.-midnight.
The Wynwood Walls Shop is open Monday through Thursday, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; and on Sunday, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Finally, to top off your visit to Miami and its excellent dining scene, including Latin American cuisine which tantalizes taste buds, as they say, know that not far away from Wynwood Walls, is Little Havana, proud of its busy restaurants and cafes. Attracting many is Versailles Restaurant and Cuban Cuisine at 3555 SW 8th St., Miami.  Some call it “the world’s most famous Cuba restaurant.” This iconic Cuban restaurant serves “traditional fare,” in a large, vintage, dining room where visitors marvel at the chandeliers.
In the Wynwood Walls area is the well-known attraction, “Zak the Baker,” a bakery and café, located at 295 NW 26th Street. Zak, whose wife and two sons are Israelis, apprenticed for a year at a cheese farm near Carmiel. The popular establishment, “Zak the Baker,” certified kosher, is closed on Saturdays. As Zak tells it, he opened the food eatery as a bakery and café, all in one. Baked goods, breakfast specials and sandwiches are big attractions at this Wynwood establishment.   
So, before or after breakfast, lunch or dinner, explore Wynwood Walls; some call it “the undisputed selfie capital of Miami.”
Ben G. Frank, travel writer and travel talk presenter, is the author of A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe, 4th ed., (Pelican Publishing) and the just-published historical novel: Klara’s War, (, as well as The Scattered Tribe, Traveling the Diaspora from Cuba to India to Tahiti and Beyond, (Globe Pequot Press). Follow him on twitter @bengfrank.