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Panamanian artist Andres Gallardo holds art scavenger hunt in Wynwood

Mixed-media artist Andres Gallardo, 25, traveled from New York to Miami with one goal in mind: to hide his works of art throughout the streets of Wynwood.

Gallardo has become popular in the Northeast for creating works of art, hiding them in different parts of a city and organizing what he refers to as “Gem Scavenger Hunts” — searches in which people in the community go out looking for art and are free to take the works home if they find them. He did just that in Miami the weekend of Feb. 8-9.

"I have friends who live in Miami, and they called me telling me, ‘It’s a great time for art in Miami, you have to come down,’ " said Gallardo, who in the past has mailed his art to friends here who organized scavenger hunts on his behalf.

"My friends told me that people had a very positive reaction to the ‘gem hunt,’ and on Twitter and Instagram I was able to see pictures of people showing off the pieces they had found," he said. " I loved looking at those photos and knowing I had something to do with the smiles on their faces."

Gallardo finally made the trip to Miami to see for himself what all the hype was about. On Saturday, he hid his art throughout the streets of Wynwood during the neighborhood’s “Art Walk” that takes place the first Saturday of each month.

"I’m so glad to be in Miami to personally distribute my art. I've done this in different states, but because of my Latino culture, being in Miami and doing this here feels so right, " said Gallardo, admitting that he had fallen in love with the city in just a few days since arriving.

Gallardo, who is Panamanian, painted pieces meant especially for Miami. He chose to paint figures who are well-known in Miami, such as the Miami Heat’s LeBron James, as well as salsa music legends Hector Lavoe and Oscar D'León.

Gallardo usually paints on old vinyl records and small pieces of wood and canvas and has been interviewed by several TV stations in Long Island, New York. He was featured in Time magazine when he painted on-the-spot Trayvon Martin pieces at a rally in New York City and gave away his artwork to protestors.

Of the scavenger hunts he orchestrated in Wynwood, Gallardo said: “This is my way of contributing to the burgeoning art movement here. Miami is becoming a mecca for artists, and I came here because I wanted to be a part of that.”

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