What a difference a decade makes. In 2003, when the first Second Saturday Art Walk was launched by a small group of artists, dealers, and indie curators, no one could have predicted that a blighted Wynwood neighborhood would grow to rival SoHo and become the epicenter of South Florida's booming art scene.
Now, 3,652 days later, Wynwood has become a world-class cultural destination that includes dozens of galleries and studios, private museums, and a collection of street murals that regularly attract thousands of art lovers each month to what is arguably the Magic City's biggest social scene.
For proof, just look at the lineup of shows, some new and others extended from last month, on view this weekend during the searing dog days of summer. There's plenty on tap for everyone, from first time revelers to those with the most discriminating eyes.
Think of forgotten Florida, and those old mementos discovered in grandma's attic -- like a Weeki Wachee mermaid photo or a carved coconut head -- likely come to mind. But in this two-person exhibit featuring the work of Miami artists Dogan Arslanoglu and Johnny Laderer, fading memories of the Sunshine State are the thematic engine fueling the show. Don't expect to find a flamingo figurine or an alligator ashtray here. Instead, Arslanoglu's photography and Laderer's sculpture function as conceptual souvenirs, marking a personal experience while articulating a nostalgia for Florida as it once was, as it can be, and as it is for the outsider.
The Haunted Land
Midcareer Italian artists Dacia Manto and Patrizia Giambi are scaring up a shotgun wedding between nature and the mechanical to mark their South Florida debut. On view is a collection of mixed-media drawings and photo-based collages, not to mention some installations and videos in an intriguing exhibit organized by Black Square Gallery's director, Anna Milashevych, and Italian curator Sabrina Benvenuti. They say Manto and Giambi are exploring an indefinable space, both internal and external, to jolt viewers into confronting the unknown.
Intro and I'll Smile and I'm Not Sad
This pair of severely contrasting exhibits riffs on the nature of experimental theater and the last words of Texas death row inmates. The first, "Intro," marks the debut solo of Miami's Alan Gutierrez and boasts painting, sculpture, and video. A crafty Gutierrez tinkers with shades of a memory-play format to set the stage for an exhibition that comments on contemporary demands to perform. Meanwhile, Britain's Powell, who is based in the Big Apple, unsettles the senses with her muted video I'll Smile and I'm Not Sad, flickering with the final testaments of those executed in the Lone Star State since 1982. In the gallery's Atrium, don't miss Carolyn Salas' soaring abstract canvases teetering between painting and sculpture that seek to convey notions of an increasingly hybrid world.
Violets Violence Silence
Don't let yourself be fooled that Gallery Diet is the site of a recent burglary. After all, what else might one think when entering a Wynwood gallery only to encounter a solitary painting on display? But that's part of the allure of one the neighborhood's edgier spaces. It's showcasing one work at a time. Nathlie Provosty's wall-engulfing oil-on-linen painting, bearing the poetic title of her show, energizes the surrounding empty white cube with its forceful quartet of commanding circles that, like a Trojan horse, rope in the viewer.
Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art
This Wynwood joint usually delivers a combination of works by pop masters such as Warhol, Lichtenstein, Johns, and Rauschenberg. But during this month's edition of Art Walk, Shienbaum is leveling his gun sight on a starker urban vibe. The gallery's untitled summer group show features seven rising graffiti rats ranging from locals Ahol Sniffs Glue, 2Alas, Mr. Herget, and Clandestine Culture to international talent like the City of Light's Speedy Graphito and Miss Van. In the Project Room, don't miss Colombia's Stinkfish, whose mind-numbing, large-scale portraits on wood and metal -- which oscillate with psychedelic abstract, geometric patterns -- are making their stateside debut.
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20 Shades of Gray
Way before Art Basel, Second Saturdays, or Wynwood's world-famous outdoor graffiti murals helped establish Miami as an international cultural destination, the 20 Florida artists in the Zadok Gallery's marquee show were leaving their mark on the contemporary scene. Curated by Bernice Steinbaum, who recently closed her pioneering Wynwood gallery and has long championed local talent, this sprawling group offering is not a nod to a racy novel but rather a showcase for members of the AARP set. Among the talent are Jill Cannady, Ramon Carulla, Karen Rifas, Darby Bannard, Robert Thiele, and Clyde Butcher. All have had museum shows, and some have been included in past Whitney Biennials. On view are works in every conceivable media, most created during the past decade. Steinbaum, who is now working as Zadok's chief curator, has also organized "Reclaimed Miami," a companion exhibit by ten Miami-based names who all employ recycled materials to underscore the importance of environmental stewardship.