Wynwood Life Returns for 2015

The second annual Wynwood Life Festival is gearing up to get underway this month from the 24th to the 26th and this year’s celebration of art, food, and fashion is expected to be an even bigger event than its inaugural predecessor. This time around, the stages will showcase the likes of local talents like the Spam Allstars and Suenalo, and the Peroni Style Lounge will be ground zero for those looking to find original couture in one of the pop-up boutiques.

It wouldn't be a celebration of Wynwood be without the two most identifiable characteristics of Miami’s most colorful creative haven: food trucks, fashion, and art. And while the 50 food trucks that will be in attendance should get you excited, you might also look forward to the prospect of getting to see original works of art on display from a myriad of local artists.

Among them will be Alexander Mijares, who was commissioned by the organizers of Wynwood Life to produce the commemorative poster for this year’s festival. The painting, titled Be Free, is every bit as Miami as you could possibly expect it to be.

Mijares started his career as an artist in what some might describe as a less than traditional manner. Rather than pursuing a passion for painting from a young age, toiling through art schools and academies, Mijares just sort of fell into painting on a whim.

“I started painting at the end of 2011,” Mijares says. “I needed a piece of art for my wall and I couldn’t find anything I could afford, so I went out and bought a canvas and painted something and it ended up coming out real good.”

He continued to practice his newly found craft and hone his handiwork and he had his own “recognizable style” after about a month. Over the course of the past four-and-a-half years, Mijares has had numerous shows that usually sell out. 

Mijares' his poster for Wynwood Life, Be Free — semi-abstract nude woman painted in the bright hues of Ocean Drive — is a very Miami piece of art. When asked about this painting’s significance, Mijares said: “ [I] wanted it to be something that everyone could appreciate, young, old, whatever. And also, just a cool piece…I like that it’s kind of open to interpretation and that it’s something that really portrays emotion. It’s also something that when people see it, they can find different things to relate to, like they might see a mother or a wife or a daughter, you know? It’s just what came to me.”

Mijares, who was awarded the commission by Javi Zayas, a friend of the artist’s for 28 years and one of the founders of the event agency that’s putting this year’s festival together, has produced a work that sadly pales in comparison to last year’s mural by Trek6.  

Tony Albelo, the main force behind the creation and organization of Wynwood Life, is more than just a businessman trying to turn a profit in Miami’s hippest area. He has shown time and again that he’s engaged with Miami’s arts scene and that he’s intent on doing whatever he can to foster it; from taking the world famous street artist Space Invader out on his boat to “invade” Miami by sea to giving local graffiti legends like Atomik free rein to do as they pleased with a wall he had the lease on.

And 2015's Wynwood Life won't be any different, the lineup includes live art exhibitions (the full schedule is TBA) and local musical acts like Otto Von Schirach and Afrobeta. Albelo’s passion is  evident in this festival; it's all about giving the up and comers in this city a shot to actually come up and there’s hardly enough of that in this town.

Wynwood Life runs April 24-26. For more information visit
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Travis Cohen is a writer for Miami New Times and covers subjects ranging from arts and architecture to marijuana and monkeys with herpes. He graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University with a bachelor's degree in English in 2012 and began working with New Times shortly thereafter. He was born and raised in Miami.