New Times' MasterMind Awards honor the city's most inspiring creatives. We'll profile those honorable mentions, and eventually the finalists, in the weeks to come. This year's three MasterMind Award winners — who'll receive $1,000 checks — will be announced February 18 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit newtimesartopia.com.
Douglas Hoekzema’s studio sits next to the train tracks in Little River. Freights pass by often, but the screeching doesn’t bother the painter. Instead, the sound reminds him of when he began doing graffiti and would use the sides of trains as traveling canvases — it’s the best kind of moving gallery, he says, as his lips curl into a smile.
Born in Boulder, Colorado, Hoekzema moved to South Florida as a kid and grew up in Fort Lauderdale before relocating to Miami in 2008. Around that time, he joined the graffiti crew Miami Style Graffiti (AKA Miami Style God and MSG).
As he remembers his time with MSG, he laughs. “Sure, I vandalized things — that's half the point of a graffiti crew. But my crew in particular specialized in big mural productions... I was a background guy.”
Wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigarette, he sits in the outdoor space of his studio. His new studio is perfectly divided to satisfy the needs of an artist like himself: There's a large outdoor area for his murals (with a shed to keep his spray paints) and an intimate indoor room for his smaller-scale pieces. For the past few years, Hoekzema has jumped around from studio to studio, but just last month, he secured this new space. “I’m really looking forward to getting back in the studio and making a whole new body of work... It's been years since I've had my own space, but now this one is mine," he says.
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“I get called a ‘graffiti artist’ or a ‘street artist’ because I use spray paint and I paint public murals, but that’s not my agenda," he says, his cigarette balancing in the corner of his mouth.
Hoekzema has been painting since he was a teenager, and his years with MSG also helped him develop his own style. You’ll notice his psychedelic spirals on buildings throughout Wynwood and Overtown, signed by his artist name, Hoxxoh. The trick to getting the curves done right: “It’s a U-shape. I’m using half the cone of the paint. People think I hit the can against the wall, but the can never touches the wall — it’s all in the wrist."
Although his work appears in galleries and on outdoor murals, Hoekzema has a preference. “I’d rather be more like Diego Rivera than Banksy,” he says nonchalantly. “I’m an artist; I’m a painter who sometimes paints murals.”