| Art |

Wynwood's Climate-Change Mural Vandalized, Will Be Replaced

The vandalized mural painted by Miami artist Reinier Gamboa.
The vandalized mural painted by Miami artist Reinier Gamboa.
Before It's Too Late
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.

Earlier this week, Linda Cheung, leader of the environmental nonprofit Before It's Too Late, began receiving disturbing messages on social media. One of the group's projects, a mural in Wynwood, had been defaced.

"Someone vandalized it badly," says Cheung, reached by New Times over the phone. “My guess is somebody threw balloons full of paint across both sides.”

The mural, painted by Miami artist Reinier Gamboa as part of the project "Anthropocene Extinction," occupies prominent wall space on NW Third Avenue at 25th Street in the arts district. Its beautiful, realistic depictions of Florida animals such as manatees, panthers, and great blue herons are now marred by huge splatters of black paint across both sides and large tags reading "ZOE."

Unveiled in January, the mural includes an augmented-reality (AR) component that aims to raise awareness of the toll humans are exacting on ecosystems in Florida and beyond. A specially designed smartphone app allowed spectators to view videos about each animal and learn more about what scientists say is an ongoing mass extinction caused by human activity.

Because of the vandalism, the work is now a loss and will be replaced before its time.

“If they hadn’t defaced it so badly we could’ve fixed it,” Cheung says. “We could not fix it without repainting the whole thing. It took us a month and a half to paint.”

The mural had been up for less than a year.
The mural had been up for less than a year.
Before It's Too Late

The loss of the mural is a shame. But it's not the end of the road for Before It's Too Late, which Cheung says has become a sort of studio combining art, AR technology, and activism. Next month, the group will unveil a project in North Miami's Liberty Gardens Park discussing pollinator plants and animals. They're also working with a wine producer that plants wildflowers to help the declining worldwide bee population.

Cheung doesn't know who defaced the mural, but she has her suspicions. Due to the nature of the vandalism — the "ZOE" tags might refer to the notorious Haitian street gang Zoe Pound and don't bear evidence of "respectful" tagging usually seen among graffiti artists — she doesn't suspect anyone in the Miami street art community and believes it to have been a random group of "wannabe gangster kids."

Although Cheung says the building's owner, a veterinarian, will look to replace the mural, she thinks the work should stay up in its damaged state for as long as possible. In effect, she says, the destruction of this beautiful depiction of wildlife by human hands has become “a reflection of the issue we’re trying to raise awareness of”: the mass extinction of life on Earth caused by the selfish acts of humankind.

“We want this up for as long as they’re willing to keep it up,” she says. “The true art that’s being destroyed is the loss of nature.”

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.