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Artist-Designed Crosswalks Coming to Wynwood

Cruz-Diez's crosswalk installation at Art Basel in 2010.
Cruz-Diez's crosswalk installation at Art Basel in 2010.

Finally, a development in Wynwood that's both cultural and growth-oriented: Wynwood Ways, a project of the Miami Biennale and Wynwood Arts District Association (WADA), is bringing over a dozen crosswalks designed by artists to the streets of Miami's most buzzed-about arts neighborhood.

A public art installation/crosswalk, designed by Venezuelan kinetic artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, will be unveiled in a ceremony on Monday, the first of 15 planned by Wynwood Ways. Eventually the project will include better lighting, and more measures to improve Wynwood's cleanliness and safety, said Miami Biennale Vice President Ariana Testamarck Orellana.

"The neighborhood has been changing for the better," Testamarck said. "Wynwood Ways is a part of all that. The first stage is the crosswalks."

See also:

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The crosswalks are designed to correct the "auto-centric" layout of the former industrial district. As more pedestrians take to the streets, Testamarck said, the community needs to provide better and safer ways for those people to get around. "I'm in the area. It's really hard to try to get across the street in high traffic," particularly along North Miami Avenue, she explains.

The first crosswalk, however, is planned for the front of the Wynwood Walls. Cruz-Diez, whose work has also been installed at Marlins Stadium and at the Miami Beach Convention Center during Art Basel, will dedicate his kinetic design to the late developer Tony Goldman. And that's not the only goodwill the artist is bringing to the community.

"What is very nice about his work is that he has been able to master a way of changing a little bit of how people feel.... When people ... go through the crosswalk, it changes the energy, changes the sensation, to a more optimistic one -- to have a good day," Testamarck says. "We hope that anybody that includes any work [in the Wynwood Ways project] creates a prositive reaction on the people that are circulating in the area."

A beachy Cruz-Diez design in Brazil in 1986.
A beachy Cruz-Diez design in Brazil in 1986.

The site of the next crosswalk will be at 28th Street and N. Miami Avenue, near newly opened restaurants Pride & Joy and Bloom. The designing artist hasn't yet been chosen; Testamarck says there's a possibility of holding a contest to pick the winner. But be warned, prospective artists: Though the project is funded by the Knight Foundation and the Miami Foundation, the city has final approval over the designs, and imposes safety guidelines including certain banned colors and requirements for certain types of paint.

"Those are all details that we are going to take into account in order to set a set of rules," Testamarck says.

The first crosswalk will be unveiled in a ceremony this Monday, February 4. Visit miamibiennale.org.

Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.

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