In sync with urban planners, landscape architects, and historic preservationists, four artist teams are at work. Miamians Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt, who also have created works for the Design District, have drawn up a public art master plan. Los Angeles-based artists Jennifer Bonner and Christian Stayner, who have exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, are working to transform empty houses into community art centers. And an Oakland, Calif. artist and designer, Walter J. Hood — who has earned a Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award — is retooling Sharazad Boulevard.
Gale Fulton Ross, winner of a Rockefeller Fellowship and based in Sarasota, is creating an epic public sculpture for Opa-locka that will contain a time capsule filled with writings from local residents. The piece, titled One Story, is a 30-foot-tall sculpture of a woman’s head created from steel rods: on the top of the head is a time capsule, set to be opened in 2038. To Fulton Ross, the work is about Opa-locka itself. “I met so many women who were heads of households, nurturers who had good and bad memories of the city, and this piece is a kind of tribute. Art transforms neighborhoods, and one day, Opa-locka might be full of artists’ studios.”
To the south and east, Little Haiti is marked by the wonderful work of muralist Serge Toussaint, who has brought images from Serge Pepsi to Martin Luther King Jr. to various storefronts. His work is absolutely engaging, playful and popping, on storefronts like hyper-realist paintings.
In the Design District, the newest public art is a mural by RETNA, the noted graffiti writer, on the facade of the temporary Louis Vuitton store. The work of RETNA and 39 other muralists, including such nationally recognized artists as Kenny Scharf and Shepard Fairey, is also part of Wynwood Walls, created by the late developer Tony Goldman. Wynwood, of course, has become a national model of how public art can transform a neighborhood, and both Fairey and Scharf are creating tributes to Goldman within Wynwood Walls.
In downtown Miami, the InterContinental Miami has launched two 19-story-tall Digital Canvas installations on the east and west facades of the hotel, LED screens that include lighting and art images. DWNTWN Art Days, a public art program organized by the Miami Downtown Development Authority, has created DWNTWN Art Windows featuring displays in storefront windows.
On Flagler Street at the historic Alfred I. DuPont building, Miami artists Michelle Weinberg and Justin Long have created installations: Long’s piece is Einstein on the Beach (Metropolitan Interlude), a reference to Philip Glass’ famed musical composition. Long, who will be part of pop-up exhibitions in the Design District during Art Basel Miami Beach, envisions his installation as a break from the business world, with a panorama photo of a beach scene that is intended to evoke irony and a sense of escape, given its downtown setting.
On Eighth Street in Little Havana, the Barlington Group has adorned one of its buildings, a Goodwill store, with work by such international street artists as Space Invader. A patchwork mural titled The Good Wall, was created by assorted artists, including Miami-based Brandon Opalka. The work started with a single section created during a previous Art Basel by French muralist Blek Le Rat. “Now we have 45 artists, each doing a three-foot-by-three-foot square of the mural,’’ says Bill Fuller, a partner with Barlington, who sees the work as shifting the mindset of the neighborhood. “It’s an ever-evolving piece, a work of art that Goodwill and Little Havana love.”