After Fatal Scaffolding Collapse, Muralist Hoxxoh Fights Tragedy With Art

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

The first couple of walls Douglas Hoekzema ever painted were at his high school. He thinks the murals are still there today: three large faces and the school's mascot, a shark.

Almost 20 years after leaving Spanish River High, the artist now known as Hoxxoh has graduated to bigger things. His work, recognizable from its wavy, cobra-like patterns and use of interlinked circles, adorns walls across Miami. In August, the 36-year-old began his biggest project yet: a 25,000-square-foot mural on the side of the Hyde Resort & Residences, a luxury high-rise in Hollywood.

On October 24, as he was working on the outer rings of the nearly complete blue and green design, tragedy struck. The hanging platform Hoekzema and two friends had been standing on broke, and the three fell. Hoekzema and Jonathan Olsen were caught by their harnesses, but the safety line on Raymond Brown's harness snapped. He died on the scene.

Hoxxoh has been devastated by the loss of the 32-year-old artist who was his close friend and right-hand man. But he'll cope by doing what he has always done: making art.

"I'm lucky that Ray helped me stretch all my canvasses; he helped me paint all the murals in Miami," Hoekzema says. "I can pretty much relive that if I'm still doing it, you know? He's there in spirit."

Hoekzema's interest in art began at a young age. In high school, he found a mentor in an art teacher, whom he worked beside on the shark mural. That teacher helped him — and his dad — see art as a career path and a way to make a living.

Typically, Hoekzema starts his murals with just a vague idea of what he wants to do ("What are plans for? What you're really not going to do," he says). He uses a giant compass to map out his signature circles and a spray gun to create his wavy patterns in a motion he says is "kind of like a dance; there has to be rhythm."

His work has been described as looking like a vortex or a porthole. Hoxxoh says it's up for interpretation.

"People are like, 'What is it?'" he says. "I don't know. I don't want to know. I give the wall what it asks for."

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.