J. Wakefield to Unveil Star Wars-Inspired Mural by Bikismo for Art Basel

Vader mask in progress.
Vader mask in progress.
Photo by Laine Doss

While Miami is obsessed with Art Basel this weekend, the rest of the world is gleefully awaiting the December 18 release of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Of course, many works on display at Art Basel and Miami Art Week take inspiration from pop culture and movie references. So when Jonathan Wakefield of J. Wakefield Brewing was approached by Puerto Rican street artist Bikismo to paint a giant mural inspired by one of the movie franchise's most iconic characters outside his Wynwood brewery, he was all for it.

Robert de los Rios, owner of Wynwood Map, explains how the mural came about. "Bikismo paints a lot of my events. I'm friends with him, and I tell all my friends about Wakefield Brewery. They are amazing people and they make amazing beers. I took Bikismo into the brewery. We were drinking the beer, and we just started talking about what we could do and how we could make this happen. So we put a budget together, and here we are."

Wakefield's taproom.
Wakefield's taproom.
Photo by Laine Doss

Wakefield, a self-professed Star Wars fan, already has a wall of his taproom depicting the movie's famous cantina scene. He initially rejected a few ideas for a new mural before Bikismo came up with the concept for a gleaming Darth Vader mask. "I wasn't feeling some other ideas, but this is going to be great."

The larger-than-life metallic depiction of the famous villain might just put J. Wakefield on the map not only for its beer but also for being the most heavily Star Wars-themed brewery in the galaxy (or at least the world). Wakefield, who's renting out a theater for a special, private screening of the new film for his staff, says he's OK with that, although he's quick to point out that the brewery hosts several other works that are not tied to the movie, including a woman painted by N Carlos J and another piece by Ben Angotti.

The brewer, who also collaborated with Ahol Sniffs Glue on a limited release of the brewery's Harbinger beer, says there's a definite correlation between art and brewing. "They're both creative forms of expression. These artists have their murals as an outlet; I have my beer."

Vader's outline.
Vader's outline.
Photo by Laine Doss

The Vader mural at Wakefield Brewing is scheduled to be completed today, December 4. The outline alone shimmers in the sunlight, promising a stunning visual when finished. De los Rios says that although the film's release may generate more buzz for the art, Bikismo's work stands on its own merits. "I am a huge fan of these artists, and I think their work speaks on its own. I think there would be a huge amount of interest just because it's a Bikismo. Now, because it's also located at one of the world's best breweries and because of the movie being released, I think the excitement is growing."

Bikismo is known for painting hyperrealistic chrome murals. His Chromed Dog, painted for the Raw Project at Jose de Diego Middle School, was the talk of last year's Art Basel. Although the artist uses only spray paint, his works take on a liquefied-metallic 3D quality.

Bikismo's metallic skull at Smashed Canvas.
Bikismo's metallic skull at Smashed Canvas.
Photo by Laine Doss

Bikismo also created a skull for Smashed Canvas. The work is located just inside the beer garden at 244 NE 29th St., along with nearly two dozen works by Brian Butler, Caratoes, D*Face, Jeff Grass, and Tatiana Suarez. Smashed Canvas is open now through Sunday, December 6, from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Much of the beer garden is tented, so don't let the rain deter you from heading out to enjoy a few brews with your art.

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