| Art |

The Busiest Gallery in Wynwood Might Be the Salvation Army

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.

There is something shockingly different about Wynwood's newest art emporium. The works lining the gritty space's windows, walls, and aisles fly out the door in a single day. And on Wednesdays, you can snag an original painting or limited-edition framed print for half-off or a hefty discount.

The blue-ticket prices on display can be haggled over, without a gallery's high-pressure sales approach. You also won't find anyone fussing over those little red dots trumpeting expensive purchases and designed to incite status anxiety. And customers aren't lured in with promises of free cheese or Chablis.

But at the Salvation Army thrift store at 90 NW 23rd St., the art business is booming in a big, untraditional way. With Wynwood galleries closing, moving, or teetering on the edge, the Salvation Army's approach to art sales might be an effective business model for success in these grim economic times.

"We get a lot of collectors who come in on the day of the gallery walks

and buy this stuff, but when they find out everything is half-off on

Wednesdays, they come back for the discounts," says Vernell Hammett,

the thrift store's general manager and self-styled curator.

"This is an original Ferrante painting for $79.99," he says, pointing

to a dreary, pastel-toned image of clay pots atop an adobe dwelling,

which clashes with a garish olive-green armchair tucked in a nearby


As the ersatz dealer gives Riptide the tour of his thrifty exhibit, a

7-year-old boy bangs away on an old piano while his mother fingers a

print of a Parisian lady twirling a parasol.

Next to the woman hangs an original Thomas McKnight print depicting an

ocean view from the porch of a Nantucket home. The peaceful image,

fairly bedecked in an ornate frame, is priced at a low $24.99. Other

offerings in the same price range include a bucolic scene of stylized

animals marching in pairs aboard Noah's ark and a solitary American

bald eagle in midflight.

While the Salvation Army's cheap, rotgut version of art might not lead

to a stampede of snooty collectors anytime soon, for the price of a

case of beer, you can find something to cheer up your ratty living room

couch without taking a dirty shot to the liver. That's not always the

case at galleries where a DVD of a naked artist packing glitter into

her poop chute and farting silvery fairy dust can cost you a $2,500


Local dealer Giovanni Rossi, who after a year in Wynwood is moving his

eponymous gallery at 2628 NW Second Ave. out of the neighborhood, says

the Salvation Army's venture into the art market makes sense. According

to the 34-year-old, art crawlers visited his gallery maybe 12 nights a

year during Second Saturdays and over the Art Basel weekend.

"More people are willing to spend $20 at the Salvation Army on a shitty

poster than those who might come into my space and spend $20,000 on a

painting by a serious artist. And good for them," he says.

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.