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I AM WYNWOOD Photo Contest Now Accepting Submissions

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Have you noticed the I AM WYNWOOD stickers popping up around Wynwood recently? They're not just a reminder of your location.

Creator Barbara M de Varona, a Puerto Rican transplant, has made a love connection with the neighborhood. From its galleries to its restaurants to its shops, from community leaders like Nina Johnson-Milewski and the Goldman and Mitrani families to art projects like Primary Flight and Wynwood Walls, de Varona embraces it all. And now she wants to give back with I AM WYNWOOD, an art exhibit-turned-photo contest for the general public.

"At the end of the day, I'm just a really big fan of Wynwood," de Varona says.

The I AM WYNWOOD concept started off in October 2012 as an intimate 13-portrait series depicting the faces and personalities of artful people in the community. A Facebook event page was set up for people to submit photo portraits of themselves. Art writer and blogger Colleen Dougher put out a call-for-photos on her blog, Arterpillar, and the submissions began pouring in.

And not just from average folks. Notable Wynwood figures included in the series were gallerist Gregg Shienbaum; artists Myra Wexler, NOBODY, Buddah Funk, Didi Contreras, Cristina Isabel Rivera, Eleazar Delgado, Ellie Perla; and even the late Tony Goldman.

This writer even got involved in the process. I figured, hey, I am Wynwood, so I should get involved as well. I posted several photos; a goofy childhood snapshot and one in which I imagined myself as a cat, dark with an orange wig. De Varona blended the two into a stylized portrait.

The series led to an exhibition during Art Basel last year in de Varona's small but humble studio space, rented from Eleazar Delgado right on the Wynwood Strip at 27th Street and NW Second Avenue. Hundreds of people stopped by the studio/showroom to view the portraits.

After the successful show, and putting so much time and energy into this project, de Varona decided to expand the concept. She recruited her friends Buddah Funk and Amy Arce to join forces. Together, they decided to launch a photo contest using the hashtag #IAMWYNWOOD via social media.

The contest is on now, and runs through September 30, with winners announced October 12. To enter, simply upload a photo using the hashtag #IAMWYNWOOD to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Photos can also be emailed to capture@iamwynwood.net.

Barbara says she believes that "everyone is Wynwood," and sees the expansion as an opportunity to see the neighborhood from different perspectives. For entrants, the contest is an opportunity to win limited edition I AM WYNWOOD gear, and to have their work seen by a broader audience.

Visit iamwynwood.tumblr.com.

-- Kerry McLaney, founder of Wynwood-based 305 Creative Group (@305creative)

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

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