Although many expected the economic downturn to topple Wynwood galleries like so many dominoes this season, few would have predicted that one of the area's flagship spaces, and one of only two Miami galleries to gain entrée to Art Basel's inner echelons over the past several years, would depart the neighborhood.
The impending closing of the Kevin Bruk Gallery next month has sent a pall over the boho enclave and left art scene observers nervous.
Bruk, whose eponymous space was named best local gallery by New Times in 2007, has announced he will be shuttering his doors after his current show featuring works by New York-based artist Matthew Weinstein.
"It has more to do with the location than anything else," Bruk grumbled. "There is very little traffic here other than during openings.
In an interview Tuesday, Bruk said, "My space now is a concrete bunker. It doesn't have a window. That is an issue for me." He is negotiating on a larger space in Miami Beach. "To be within walking distance of the Bass Museum and the W Hotel, that's ideal. Wynwood is an up-and-coming neighborhood. It is not Miami Beach."
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During a recent visit to the area on a sunny weekend day, the neighborhood was deserted, other than for an occasional curb zombie trying to sell a worn blanket.
There were a handful of new spaces that have opened since Basel in December that were for the most part closed during regular hours when we visited. Some of those will likely be gone by year's end if recent history is an indicator. But not all might seem as gloomy for the down-at-the-heel area's unabashed boosters.
Over at the Salvation Army, down the block from Bruk, there were some positive signs people were still investing in artworks. The thrift shop at 90 NW 23rd St. had its windows festooned with original oils on canvas and framed prints for the Second Saturday Wynwood arts crawl.
"This is an original Ferrante painting for only $79.99," manager Vernnell Hammett said of a dreary, pastel-toned image of clay pots atop an adobe dwelling. "We get a lot of collectors who come in during these gallery walks and buy this stuff, but when they find out everything is half-price on Wednesdays, they come back for the discounts," he beamed.