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, 3,650 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 this weekend during the searing dog days of summer.
Wynwood Second Saturday Art Walk
"Lost Boys." 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. David Castillo Gallery, 2234 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-573-8110; davidcastillogallery.com. Opening reception 7 to 11 p.m.
"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. Black Square Gallery, 2248 NW First Pl., Miami; 305-424-5002; blacksquaregallery.com. Open noon to 9 p.m.
"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. Emerson Dorsch Gallery, 151 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-576-1278; emersondorsch.com. Open noon to 9 p.m.
"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 of 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. Gallery Diet, 174 NW 23rd St., Miami; 305-571-2288; gallerydiet.com. Open 5 to 9 p.m.
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 sights 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-bending, large-scale portraits on wood and metal — which oscillate with psychedelic abstract, geometric patterns — are making their stateside debut. Gregg Shienbaum Fine Art, 2239 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-205-9089; gsfineart.com. Open 5 to 10 p.m.
"20 Shades of Grey." 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 medium, 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. Zadok Gallery, 2534 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-438-3737; zadokgallery.com. Open noon to 7 p.m.
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"Stairway to Heaven." In a rare summer solo, Venezuela's Pepe Lopez has transformed Dot Fiftyone into a playground for his conceptual musings. His aesthetic romper room includes a series of tapestry pieces he created from sundry tape strips and his Rhipsalis sculptures crafted from broken umbrellas collected from the streets of Caracas. The works combine to offer a nuanced view into the practice of the artist, who displays an intriguing knack for transforming trash into treasure. Dot Fiftyone Gallery, 187 NW 27th St., Miami; 305-573-9994; dotfiftyone.com. Open 2 to 10 p.m.
"Historic Process/Contemporary Visions." This group show features close to a dozen artists who employ throwback methods to create uncanny imagery. On display are early-19th-century techniques such as daguerreotype, wet plate collodion, cyanotypes, platinum prints, and photogravures. Favoring the handmade over the digital, participating talents offer a compelling look into how contemporary artists are rediscovering and using historic methods to make photographs while also applying current technology to reinvent the old-fangled. Dina Mitrani Gallery, 2620 NW Second Ave., Miami; 786-486-7248; dinamitranigallery.com. Open 5 to 9 p.m.
"Silent Music." French art dealer and curator Lelia Mordoch hopes to hit a high note with a modest group show featuring four artists riffing on the interdependence between the visual arts and music. Alain Le Boucher's sculptures harness science in the service of art, replacing sound with light, while Emmanuel Fillot pipes in with his trademark stone poems he calls "musical maps of silent spaces." Lelia Mordoch Gallery, 2300 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 786-431-1506; galerieleliamordoch.com. Open 5 to 10 p.m.
"Argentine Photography Show." The last time we saw Santiago Porter's provocative pictures of public buildings in Buenos Aires, they featured the eerie sites where Argentine society was subjected to unspeakable political violence behind elegant classical architectural façades. Now his arresting work returns to Pan American Art Projects in a group exhibition boasting five other Argentine shutterbugs. This time, Porter plans to get viewers' cranial gearboxes churning with fresh images of the shaky financial institutions representing the economic implosion of his country. Meanwhile, Gian Paolo Minelli weighs in with his own stark views of an empty penitentiary, implying the stories of people who passed through it, including the crooked business types who profited from the crisis. Pan American Art Projects, 2450 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-573-2400; panamericanart.com. Open 5 to 9 p.m.