We stopped by Wynwood Walls yesterday to take a peek at Shepard Fairey's latest work in progress and chat with the artist himself. The massive mural, which encompasses almost the entirety of the Walls' entry courtyard, will be officially introduced during Art Basel next week.
The new piece is being created as an homage to Tony Goldman, the visionary developer, restauranteur, and founder of Wynwood Walls who passed away in September.
"I'm happy to celebrate what Tony has done for so many artists," said Fairey.
Fairey and his crew began work on the mural Tuesday, and when we arrived yesterday the wall was in the midst of a total transformation. Massive, partially-cut stencils weaved along the wall like an ambiguous skeleton, telling only a partial tale of the finished product.
The new piece is replacing the original Fairey mural that has awed visitors to Wynwood Walls for three years. Whereas the politically-charged first mural was more about "peace and harmony," Fairey explained, the second mural is all about "celebration and inspiration."
Yep, that's the Dalai Lama, and David Bowie further down at the top.
He let us have a sneak peak at a digital rendering of the final mural, which features several individuals that he and Tony Goldman were both inspired by, said Fairey. By "individuals," we mean the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, and David Bowie. And of course, the mural will incorporate Tony Goldman himself.
Wait, did we say the mural will "incorporate" Tony Goldman? We meant it will star Tony Goldman. He is set to the be epicenter of the gargantuan piece of art, beaming out at audiences, arms outstretched and cowboy hat on head, with golden beams of light stretching out on either side of him. Amidst the psychedelic, modge-podge homage to other free-spirited leaders, Goldman looks like a Ken Kesey figure. And in the art world of Wynwood, in fact, that's exactly what he is.
"Tony and other figures in the Wynwood neighborhood have put something in motion here," said Fairey. "This neighborhood is in the middle of an amazing transformation. Once the energy is there, it's a snowball effect."
Prior to Goldman's death, there had been casual talks about creating a new mural, Fairey explained. But after his passing he recognized that it was important to do it now.
"Normally street art is looked at as evidence of a neighborhood in decline," he said. "Tony looked at it differently, and he created an environment that shows it to be evidence of a neighborhood in ascent."
Tony Goldman? Ken Kesey? Maybe a little bit of both.
Shepard Fairey's mural will be available for public viewing during Art Basel week at Wynwood Walls, 2550 NW 2nd Ave.