In December, months before news of a new shooting range in Wynwood made the pages of the Miami Herald, guns were everywhere in Miami. You couldn't escape them. The galleries and fairs of Art Basel were dealing more weapons than the Walmarts of rural Texas.
At Art Basel, visitors saw classic Warhol pieces on display, showing guns in the artist's characteristic bright colors and overlapping style. At Scope, a giant rifle appeared to have been adorned in cake frosting by an expert pastry chef. And in Wynwood, not far from where the Lock & Load shooting range plans to open in July, artist Asif Farooq staged "Asif's Guns," a full-service gun shop where all the guns were made of cardboard.
Gun motifs have been prominent and popular in art, design, and fashion for years. So is it any wonder that Wynwood, Miami's cultural hub, is finally getting a taste of the real thing?
Among its neighbors, sentiment about the new shooting range at 2545 N. Miami Ave., which bills itself as "Miami's Premier Machine Gun Experience," is mixed. Kareem Tabsch of O Cinema and Jack Silk of Pride & Joy expressed surprise to the Herald (though Tabsch did admit that he'd prefer Lock & Load over a Walmart in Midtown).
"Why would they have [a shooting range] when they're trying to cater to the artier, hipster crowd?" Silk wondered.
But that artier, hipster crowd has been buying watered-down versions of guns for years -- wearing them as jewelry, screen-printing them on their clothing, hanging them on their walls. And Lock & Load's prices, which start at $82.50 for three different weapons and go up to $575 for ten different guns, are still a hell of a lot cheaper than what you'd have to drop to take home most pieces of art in Wynwood. Lock & Load even sends you home with your target, your very own DIY masterpiece.
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It's easy to assume that the people of Wynwood -- the liberal, NRA-hating artist stereotype -- wouldn't be caught dead inside a shooting range. But these are the same people whose fascination with guns has turned weapons into a full-on art trend in Miami. Why wouldn't they want to get their hands on the subject of their fascination, especially in a controlled, relatively safe setting?
Seems like Lock & Load will fit in just fine.
Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.