Inside the gleaming white halls of Aventura Mall's new three-story wing, Mother Nature has awoken. Beneath her gaze, lovers embrace and birds take flight. That's the imagery, at least, of the 80-foot-long mural painted in the shopping center this past week by the Miami-based artist Luis Valle.
"Living here has definitely impacted my art," he says of his vibrant, almost psychedelic piece, titled Te Ama la Pachamama. "I think growing up in a city with such vibrant colors has influenced my color palette as well. My work also tends to be a blend of styles and cultures, which is what I think Miami represents."
In an effort to bring more recognition to local artists, the overseers of the art-filled Aventura Mall — which receives an estimated 30,000,000 visitors each year — have devised an art project that will, twice a year, commission a local artist to fill the wall alongside Topshop's entrance. (Disclosure: This writer is a partner in the project.) Valle, whose murals also dot Wynwood, was chosen in early April to be the first artist to receive the job.
"I am honored and grateful to have been selected as the inaugural artist for this," Valle says, also describing what moved him to create the cherry blossom-filled piece. "Quetzals are some of the most beautiful birds in the world. The inspiration for the mural is to inspire people to return to nature as much as possible and make sure we take care of her."
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The 41-year-old artist tells New Times it hasn't always been easy being a creative in South Florida. "Many great talents have left Miami in order to pursue their career as artists," he says. Valle himself moved to the Magic City as a child after his family fled Nicaragua in 1979. "Now there are more opportunities around than many years ago. It's still not easy, but if I can survive in Miami as an artist, I would rather do it here than anywhere in the world."
On top of allowing South Florida-based artists to show their work to millions of the malls guests — Valle's piece has already garnered attention on Instagram — the art installations will let visitors get a taste of what Miami creatives are up to. "These rotating installations will offer mall visitors exciting opportunities to experience fresh new works by emerging and local artists," says Jacqueline Fletcher, the director of Turnberry for the Arts, which curates the works installed across the behemoth mall.
Having a bit of Wynwood in such a posh setting looks, actually, quite stunning.
As for Valle's message to artists in the community, the painter has some words of encouragement. "Keep on hustling," he says. "There is so much talent in Miami waiting to be uncovered if just given the right opportunity. If you keep on hustling and stay consistent, eventually people will notice and the right opportunities will start to come."