Unlike its sister art forms that hang neatly in pristine galleries, graffiti offers no dainty placards to explain technique, meaning, or message. Three- or four-letter tags and, occasionally, year and crew, are the only hints at the personalities behind the spray cans and the stories hidden in the curves of winding letters and intricate stenciling.
Lucky for you, this Sunday's Graffiti By Bike Tour offers an opportunity to snake through the mural mazes of Wynwood and the Design District with veritable encyclopedias of street-art knowledge, Olga Cano and Dario Gonzalez. We spoke to Cano about green transportation, the explosion of Miami street art, and what to expect on a graffiti tour.
New Times: How did you come up with the idea to do a graffiti bike tour?
Olga Cano: We were looking for cycling events to put together -- we're
big advocates of cycling in Miami, promoting cycling here, raising
awareness, and bringing infrastructure. And then we started tying it
into the arts. And we thought Wynwood would be a great area because it
had always been neglected and now with all these murals it would be a
great way to reintroduce people to the area and show them that getting
around on bike is feasible. And it's perfect, because the area is too
large to see everything by foot but small enough to do it on a bike. One
of the ways that we organized it to promote cycling is by having
everyone meet at the Allapattah station, which also promotes public
Since you started a few years ago, have you seen interest in biking grow?
Definitely. Just with this graffiti tour, the first time we hosted it we
had about 40 to 50 people, and the last tour we had was it almost 120
to 130 people, so that's a huge increase. And the Museum of Art of Miami
actually contacted us so we could host some of their patrons on a
private bike tour. Even being able to tap into that community and
promote bicycling... we help people see bicycling as an option.
How will this year's graffiti tour be different?
The idea is to show people how the whole scene changes every year simply
because we have new artists coming out, and they buff many of the walls
so it's always sort of like a refreshing take. We're going to be going
through Wynwood mainly, and this year they started spreading out through
the Design District so we're also going to be seeing four or five walls
there and then finishing off in [the art park] Wynwood Walls. Most of
the work we're going to be seeing is done through Primary Flight.
I think many people aren't aware of how influential Primary Flight has
been in promoting Miami graffiti. It has been responsible for organizing
all these artists and getting guys from L.A. and New York, and now
we're getting all these international artists from Brazil, all over
Europe, London, Belgium. It's really an international street art scene.
And it's all thanks to Primary Flight. Since 2007 they've been raising
funds to bringing all these artists here.
Is there anything else bikers and graff-heads should know about Sunday's tour?
Bring lots of sun block!
The Graffiti Bike Tour will set off from Allapattah Metrorail Station
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(3501 NW 12th Ave., Miami) at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 24. The ride
is free, but participants need to bring their own bikes, and children 16
years and younger are required to wear helmets. Visit emergemiami.com.